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Passive Acoustic Research in the Atlantic Ocean

We use innovative passive acoustic technologies to study the behavior, movements and distribution of marine animals and how they contribute to their soundscape. We also evaluate impacts of human-produced sounds on marine animals.

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 passive acoustic technologies, we study the behavior, movements and distribution of marine animals. We look at what sound can tell us about the marine environment through studying soundscapes in different areas. We evaluate the impacts of human-produced sounds to inform management, conservation, and education.

Since 2004, we have been deploying acoustic recorders on the ocean bottom to study  underwater sounds. These recorders collect and store acoustic data for time periods ranging from several weeks to years. Our work is primarily focused on the Atlantic Ocean but we also work in many other waters internationally.

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 interest in contributing data, contact

Last updated by Northeast Fisheries Science Center on May 28, 2021