Eavesdropping at the speed of light: distributed acoustic sensing of baleen whales in the Arctic

This is a Preprint and has not been peer reviewed. The published version of this Preprint is available: https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2022.901348. This is version 1 of this Preprint.


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Léa Bouffaut , Kittinat Taweesintananon , Hannah Joy Kriesell, Robin André Rørstadbotnen, John Robert Potter, Martin Landrø, Ståle Emil Johansen, Jan Kristoffer Brenne, Aksel Haukanes, Olaf Schjelderup, Frode Storvik


In a post-industrial whaling world, flagship and charismatic baleen whale species are indicators of the health of our oceans. However, traditional monitoring methods provide spatially and temporally undersampled data to evaluate and mitigate the impacts of increasing climatic and anthropogenic pressures for conservation. Here we present the first case of wildlife monitoring using distributed acoustic sensing (DAS). By repurposing the globally-available infrastructure of sub-sea telecommunication fiber optic (FO) cables, DAS can (1) record vocalizing baleen whales along a 120~km FO cable with a sensing point every 4~m, from a protected fjord area out to the open ocean; (2) estimate the 3D position of a vocalizing whale for animal density estimation; and (3) exploit whale non-stereotyped vocalizations to provide fully-passive conventional seismic records for subsurface exploration. This first example's success in the Arctic suggests DAS's potential for real-time and low-cost monitoring of whales worldwide with unprecedented coverage and spatial resolution.




Marine Biology, Physical Sciences and Mathematics, Signal Processing


Distributed acoustic sensing, bioacoustics, Passive acoustic monitoring, Baleen whales, Cetacean conservation, Blue whale, Fin whale, bioacoustics, Passive acoustic monitoring, Baleen whales, cetacean conservation, blue whale, Fin whale, DAS, fiber-optic sensors, underwater acoustics


Published: 2022-03-22 20:13

Last Updated: 2022-03-23 00:13


CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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