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Passive Acoustic Research in the Atlantic Ocean

We use innovative passive acoustic technologies to evaluate the impacts of various human-produced sounds on acoustically sensitive marine animals, to aid in management, monitoring, and conservation efforts.

This illustration shows the variety of technologies that NOAA Fisheries researchers use to record underwater sounds and study marine animals. The seascape shows bottom- mounted and drifting acoustic recorders, underwater autonomous vehicles, Atlantic cod and humpback whale with tags, and instruments deployed from a NOAA ship and small boat. Colored circles show a zoomed-in view of the instruments and indicate the type of data collected: green for real-time data, orange for archival data, and blue for active NOAA Fisheries studies marine animals by using a variety of technologies to record underwater sounds, including archival passive acoustic recordings (orange), real-time acoustic data collection (green), and active acoustics (blue).

Marine mammals and many fish can produce and perceive sound in the ocean. In an environment where vision is limited, hearing is one of the most important senses. These animals rely on sound for navigating, socializing, establishing dominance, attracting mates, avoiding predators, and finding food.

Using space- and time-based measures, we study marine animal sounds. We evaluate the impacts of human-produced sounds on acoustically sensitive marine mammals to inform management, conservation, and education.

    With our partners, we have been deploying recorders on the ocean bottom since 2004 to record sound in the Northwest Atlantic. These recorders collect and store acoustic data for time periods ranging from several weeks to two years. The data we collect are used to characterize ocean noise and study the acoustic behavior of marine mammals and fish. They also help us understand the numbers and location of species in these waters.

    To view different acoustic deployments, visit our deployment map.

    Explore our research to find out more about us:

    Coming soon: Link to upload passive acoustic detection data.  For more information, or immediate assistance, contact

      Last updated by Northeast Fisheries Science Center on March 26, 2021