Marine mammals and many fish produce and receive 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 long-term changes in the behavior, movements, and distribution of marine animals. To do this we:
- Explore how sound-producing species and anthropogenic sounds make up soundscapes in different areas.
- Monitor and evaluate the impacts of sounds made by human activities such as vessels using protected and sensitive areas as well as shipping lanes, and offshore wind energy development.
- Use our sound recordings and research results for a range of outreach and education.
Since 2006, we have been deploying acoustic recorders on the ocean bottom to study underwater sounds. These recorders collect and store acoustic data for several weeks to years. Our work is primarily focused on the Atlantic Ocean but we also work elsewhere, especially in the Caribbean and off Australia.
To view different acoustic deployments, visit our Passive Acoustic Cetacean Map (PACM). We invite data contributions to improve and expand PACM so that it can provide broader research, management, and conservation context for users. For more information, or to express interest in contributing data, contact NMFS PACM DATA. To provide passive acoustic data to PACM, please use these template datasheets.
Explore Our Research to Find Out More
- Acoustic Technologies
- Collaborative Projects
- Fish & Invertebrate Acoustic Research
- Marine Mammal Acoustic Research
- Offshore Wind Energy Research
- Soundscapes and Ocean Noise Research
- Vessel Monitoring Research