Oceanwide Science Institute

Navy acoustic monitoring

The U.S. Navy conducts monitoring of protected marine species and resources in waters in and around its operational areas throughout the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. In 2011, the Navy expanded its cetacean monitoring program in two Pacific regions, the main Hawaiian Islands (MHI), and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), to include year-round passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) as well as traditional surface and aerial visual surveys. OSI, together with partner agencies including the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, Bio-Waves, Inc. and HDR, Inc., contribute to these efforts by collecting and analyzing long-term, acoustic data obtained from Ecological Acoustic Recorders (EARs) deployed at several locations around the islands of Kauai (MHI), Guam, Saipan, and Tinian (CNMI). Our objective is to use PAM to document the baseline occurrence patterns of species such as delphinids, sperm whales, beaked whales and baleen whales, and to investigate any changes in their occurrence or behavior in relation to Naval exercises and/or environmental factors.

In addition, OSI is also involved in an effort to better understand and mitigate the potentially harmful effects of mine neutralization exercises (MINEX) conducted by the U.S. Navy. MINEX activities have the potential to injure or kill marine mammals occurring in the same area.  An effort was begun in August 2012 to monitor dolphin activity off Virginia Beach, VA at the Virginia Capes (VACAPES) Range Complex MINEX site using passive acoustic methods as part of the Navy’s Integrated Comprehensive Monitoring Program.  OSI is working with HDR, Inc. to deploy and analyze data from four EARs to address several questions that will help U.S. Navy resource managers and regulatory agencies, such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), evaluate the potential risks of MINEX training activities to the local dolphin population and develop effective mitigation strategies.


Navy partners

Photos courtesy of Cascadia Research Collective


Lammers, M.O., M. Howe, E. Zang, M. McElligottA. Engelhaupt, and L. Munger, 2017. Acoustic monitoring of coastal dolphins and their response to naval mine neutralization exercises. 


Munger, L.M., M.O. Lammers, and W.W.L. Au, 2014. Passive Acoustic Monitoring for Cetaceans within the Marianas Islands Range Complex (MIRC). Preliminary Report. Prepared for U.S. Pacific Fleet. Submitted to Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Pacific, Honolulu, Hawaii under Contract No. N62470-10-D-3011, Task Orders KB14 and KB 17, issued to HDR Inc., Honolulu, Hawaii. Prepared by Oceanwide Science Institute, Honolulu, Hawaii and Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, Kaneohe, Hawaii. 10 February 2014. DOWNLOAD PDF

Lammers, M.O, M. Howe, and L. Munger. 2014. Acoustic Monitoring of Dolphin Occurrence and Activity in the Virginia Capes W-50 MINEX Range 2012-2013: Preliminary Results. Prepared for U.S. Fleet Forces Command. Submitted to Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Atlantic, Norfolk, Virginia, under Contract No. N62470-10-3011, Task Order CTO 03, issued to HDR Inc., Norfolk, Virginia. Prepared by Oceanwide Institute, Honolulu, Hawaii. May 2014.  DOWNLOAD PDF

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Present & past EAR locations: