Underwater acoustic applications in Australia – ‘sound’ science is multi-disciplinary
Rob McCauley (Curtin University)
This symposium will focus on applications of underwater acoustic studies in Australia. Underwater acoustics includes passive and active systems plus studies into how sound is produced, man-made sound sources, sound transmission at fine and oceanic scales, ambient noise fields and scattering process in the ocean. Underwater acoustics is a multi-disciplinary and fascinating field which encompasses engineering, physics and in many applications, biology. Underwater acoustics systems may be used to map seafloor bathymetry and discriminate seabed habitat types using reflection studies or monitor marine animals using passive systems. A large number of marine animals produce sounds, often at extraordinary levels and for sustained periods. In some cases, great whale signals are detectable at ranges of several hundreds of kilometres. These biological signals can be used to study animal behaviour, migratory movements, abundance and seasonal occurrence. Studies of bio-acoustics or active sonar systems can only be interpreted correctly by understanding the physics of sound transmission in the ocean, having expertise in signal processing and combining this with conventional biological methods. This session will highlight the conference theme by illustrating the need of today’s biologists to ‘cross boundaries’ in understanding the multi-disciplinary nature of many fields and how acoustics can be used to study marine fauna, oceanography and physical sound sources, at oceanic scales.