Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences

Automated acoustic tracking of aquatic animals: scales, design and deployment of listening station arrays

M. R. Heupel A F , J. M. Semmens B C and A. J. Hobday D E
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Center for Shark Research, Mote Marine Laboratory, 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway, Sarasota, Florida 34236, USA.

B Marine Research Laboratories, Tasmanian Aquaculture and Fisheries Institute, University of Tasmania, Private Bag 49, Hobart, TAS 7001, Australia.

C Pacific Ocean Shelf Tracking Project, Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre, PO Box 3232, Vancouver, British Columbia V6B 3X8, Canada.

D School of Zoology, University of Tasmania, Private Bag 5, Hobart, TAS 7001, Australia.

E CSIRO Marine Research, Hobart, TAS 7001, Australia.

F Corresponding author. Email:

Marine and Freshwater Research 57(1) 1-13
Submitted: 24 May 2005  Accepted: 11 November 2005   Published: 17 January 2006


The recent introduction of low-cost, moored data-logging acoustic receivers has provided opportunities for tracking marine organisms over small (hundreds of metres) and large scales (hundreds of kilometres). Acoustic receivers have been deployed in many different environments to examine specific hypotheses regarding the movement of aquatic species. This technology provides many advantages for studying aquatic animal movement patterns, but also has limitations and provides unique difficulties for users. Study design, applications, advantages and limitations are discussed with examples from past and current studies. Data management and analysis techniques are in their infancy and few standardised techniques exist. Complications with data management and potential data analysis techniques are discussed. Examples from the literature are utilised wherever possible to provide useful references.

Extra keywords: acoustic monitoring, movement patterns, telemetry, tracking.


This paper arose from discussions at the Australian and International Acoustic Telemetry Workshop, Australian Marine Sciences Association (AMSA) Annual Conference, Hobart, Australia, July 2004. This workshop was supported by AMSA, The Census of Marine Life, Vemco Ltd and Lotek Wireless Ltd. Funding from the National Science Foundation (Award No OCE-9911295) and the Mote Scientific Foundation supported work by MRH. Acoustic monitoring research by JS has been supported by the Australian Research Council (Linkage Grants Nos C00107233 and LE0237912) and the University of Tasmania (Institutional Research Grant No S12591). Research by AH has been supported by the Japan-Australia Southern Bluefin Tuna Recruitment Monitoring Program and CSIRO Marine Research.


Arendt, M. D. , Lucy, J. A. , and Munroe, T. A. (2001a). Seasonal occurrence and site-utilization patterns of adult tautog, Tautoga onitis (Labridae), at manmade and natural structures in lower Chesapeake Bay. Fishery Bulletin 99, 519–527.

Arendt, M. D. , Lucy, J. A. , and Evans, D. A. (2001b). Diel and seasonal activity patterns of adult tautog, Tautoga onitis, in lower Chesapeake Bay, inferred from ultrasonic telemetry. Environmental Biology of Fishes 62, 379–391.
CrossRef |

Bégout, M.-L. , and Lagardère, J.-P. (1995). An acoustic telemetry study of seabream (Sparus aurata L.): first results on activity rhythm, effects of environmental variables and space utilization. Hydrobiologica 300/301, 417–423.
CrossRef |

Bégout-Anras, M.-L. , Lagardère, J.-P. , and Lafaye, J.-Y. (1997). Diel activity rhythm of seabass tracked in a natural environment: group effects on swimming patterns and amplitudes. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 54, 162–168.
CrossRef |

Boettcher, R. , Haig, S. M. , and Bridges, W. C. (1994). Behavioral patterns and nearest neighbor distances among nonbreeding American avocets. The Condor 96, 973–986.

Clark, P. J. , and Evans, F. C. (1954). Distance to nearest neighbor as a measure of spatial relationships in populations. Ecology 35, 445–453.

Clements, S. , Jepsen, D. , Karnowski, M. , and Schreck, C. B. (2005). Optimization of an acoustic telemetry array for detecting transmitter-implanted fish. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 25, 429–436.
CrossRef |

Comeau, L. A. , Campana, S. E. , and Castonguay, M. (2002). Automated monitoring of a large-scale cod (Gadus morhua) migration in the open sea. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 59, 1845–1850.
CrossRef |

Cote, D. , Scruton, D. A. , Niezgoda, G. H. , McKinley, R. S. , Rowsell, D. F. , Lindstrom, R. T. , Ollerhead, L. M. N. , and Whitt, C. J. (1998). Automated listening stations for tagged marine fishes. Marine Technology Society Journal 32, 54–62.

Cote, D. , Ollerhead, L. M. N. , Scruton, D. A. , and McKinley, R. S. (2003). Microhabitat use of juvenile Atlantic cod in a coastal area of Newfoundland determined by 2D telemetry. Marine Ecology Progress Series 265, 227–234.

Egli, D. P. , and Babcock, R. C. (2004). Ultrasonic tracking reveals multiple behavioural modes of snapper (Pagrus auratus) in a temperate no-take marine reserve. ICES Journal of Marine Science 61, 1137–1143.
CrossRef |

Finstad, B. , Økland, F. , Thorstad, E. B. , Bjorn, P. A. , and McKinley, R. S. (2005). Migration of hatchery-reared Atlantic salmon and wild anadromous brown trout post-smolts in a Norwegian fjord system. Journal of Fish Biology 66, 86–96.
CrossRef |

Gunn J., and Block B. A. (2001). Advances in acoustic, archival, and satellite tagging of tunas. In ‘Tuna: Physiology, Ecology and Evolution’. (Eds B. A. Block and E. D. Stevens.) pp. 167–224. (Academic Press: San Diego, CA.)

Hartill, B. W. , Morrison, M. A. , Smith, M. D. , Boubée, J. , and Parsons, D. M. (2003). Diurnal and tidal movements of snapper (Pagrus auratus, Sparidae) in an estuarine environment. Marine and Freshwater Research 54, 931–940.
CrossRef |

Heupel, M. R. (). Exiting Terra Ceia Bay: examination of cues stimulating migration from a summer nursery area. American Fisheries Society Publication ,In press.

Heupel M. R., and Hueter R. E. (2001). Use of a remote acoustic telemetry system to monitor shark movements in a coastal nursery area. In ‘Electronic Tagging and Tracking in Marine Fisheries’. (Eds J. R. Sibert and J. L. Nielsen.) pp. 217–236. (Kluwer Academic Publishers: Amsterdam.)

Heupel, M. R. , and Hueter, R. E. (2002). The importance of prey density in relation to the movement patterns of juvenile sharks within a coastal nursery area. Marine and Freshwater Research 53, 543–550.
CrossRef |

Heupel, M. R. , and Simpfendorfer, C. A. (2002). Estimation of survival and mortality of juvenile blacktip sharks, Carcharhinus limbatus, within a nursery area based on telemetry data. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 59, 624–632.
CrossRef |

Heupel, M. R. , and Simpfendorfer, C. A. (2005a). Using acoustic monitoring to evaluate MPAs for shark nursery areas: the importance of long-term data. Marine Technology Society Journal 39, 10–18.

Heupel, M. R. , and Simpfendorfer, C. A. (2005b). Quantitative analysis of shark aggregation behavior. Marine Biology 147, 1239–1249.
CrossRef |

Heupel, M. R. , Simpfendorfer, C. A. , and Hueter, R. E. (2004). Estimation of shark home ranges using passive monitoring techniques. Environmental Biology of Fishes 71, 135–142.
CrossRef |

Hobday A. J. (2002). Acoustic monitoring of SBT within the GAB; exchange rates and residence times at topographic features, Southern Bluefin Tuna Recruitment Monitoring Workshop Report. RMPWS 02/03.

Hobday A. J. (2003). Nearshore Migration of Juvenile Southern Bluefin Tuna In Southern Western Australia, Southern Bluefin Tuna Recruitment Monitoring Workshop Report. RMPWS 03/15.

Hobday A. J., and Kawabe R. (2004). RMP Acoustic Experiment 2003–04: Movements of juvenile southern bluefin tuna in southern Western Australia, Southern Bluefin Tuna Recruitment Monitoring Workshop Report. RMPWS 04/09.

Hobday A. J., Davis T. L. O., and Gunn J. S. (2001). Determination of SBT residence time via acoustic monitoring along the southern WA coast. Southern Bluefin Tuna Recruitment Monitoring Workshop Report. RMPWS 01/15.

Hooge P. N., and Eichenlaub W. M. (2000). Animal movements extension to ArcView. Alaska Biologica Center, U.S. Geological Survey, Anchorage.

Hueter, R. E. , Heupel, M. R. , Heist, E. J. , and Keeney, D. B. (2004). The implications of philopatry in sharks for the management of shark fisheries. Journal of Northwest Atlantic Fishery Science 35, 239–247.

Humston, R. , Ault, J. S. , Larkin, M. F. , and Luo, J. (2005). Movements and site fidelity of the bonefish Albula vulpes in the northern Florida Keys determined by acoustic telemetry. Marine Ecology Progress Series 291, 237–248.

Klimley, A. P. , and Butler, S. B. (1988). Immigration and emigration of a pelagic fish assemblage to seamounts in the Gulf of California related to water mass movements using satellite imagery. Marine Ecology Progress Series 49, 11–20.

Klimley, A. P. , and Holloway, C. F. (1999). School fidelity and homing synchronicity of yellowfin tuna, Thunnus albacares. Marine Biology 133, 307–317.
CrossRef |

Klimley, A. P. , Butler, S. B. , Nelson, D. R. , and Stull, A. (1988). Diel movements of scalloped hammerhead sharks, Sphyrna lewini Griffith and Smith, to and from a seamount in the Gulf of California. Journal of Fish Biology 33, 751–761.

Klimley, A. P. , Voegeli, F. , Beavers, S. C. , and Le Boeuf, B. J. (1998). Automated listening stations for tagged marine fishes. Marine Technology Society Journal 32, 94–101.

Klimley, A. P. , Le Boeuf, B. J. , Cantara, K. M. , Richert, J. E. , Davis, S. F. , and Van Sommeran, S. (2001). Radio-acoustic positioning as a tool for studying site-specific behaviour of the white shark and other large marine species. Marine Biology 138, 429–446.
CrossRef |

Klimley, A. P. , Jorgensen, S. J. , Muhlia-Melo, A. , and Beavers, S. C. (2003). The occurrence of yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares) at Espiritu Santo seamount in the Gulf of California. Fishery Bulletin 101, 684–692.

Lacroix, G. L. , and McCurdy, P. (1996). Migratory behaviour of post-smolt Atlantic salmon during initial stages of seaward migration. Journal of Fish Biology 49, 1086–1101.
CrossRef |

Lacroix G. L., and Voegeli F. A. (2000). Development of automated monitoring systems for ultrasonic transmitters. In ‘Advances in Fish Telemetry’. (Eds A. Moore and I. Russell.) pp. 37–50. (CEFAS: Suffolk.)

Lacroix, G. L. , McCurdy, P. , and Knox, D. (2004a). Migration of Atlantic salmon post-smolts in relation to habitat use in a coastal system. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 133, 1455–1471.
CrossRef |

Lacroix, G. L. , Knox, D. , and McCurdy, P. (2004b). Effects of implanted dummy acoustic transmitters on juvenile Atlantic salmon. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 133, 211–220.
CrossRef |

Lacroix, G. L. , Knox, D. , and Stokesbury, M. J. W. (2005). Survival and behaviour of post-smolt Atlantic salmon in coastal habitat with extreme tides. Journal of Fish Biology 66, 485–498.
CrossRef |

Lagardère, J.-P. , Ducamp, J.-J. , Favre, L. , Mosneron Dupin, J. , and Spérandio, M. (1990). A method for the quantitative evaluation of fish movements in salt ponds by acoustic telemetry. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 141, 221–236.
CrossRef |

Leising, A. W. , and Yen, J. (1997). Spacing mechanisms within light-induced copepod swarms. Marine Ecology Progress Series 155, 127–135.

Lowe, C. G. , Topping, D. T. , Cartamil, D. P. , and Papastamatiou, Y. P. (2003). Movement patterns, home range, and habitat utilization of adult kelp bass Paralabrax clathratus in a temperate no-take marine reserve. Marine Ecology Progress Series 256, 205–216.

Lutcavage, M. E. , Brill, R. W. , Skomal, G. B. , Chase, B. C. , Goldstein, J. L. , and Tutein, J. (2000). Tracking adult North Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) in the northwestern Atlantic using ultrasonic telemetry. Marine Biology 137, 347–358.
CrossRef |

Moore A.Lacroix G. L., and Sturlaugsson, J. (2000). Tracking Atlantic salmon post-smolts in the sea. In ‘The Ocean Life of Atlantic Salmon: Environmental and Biological Factors Influencing Survival’. (Ed. D. Mills.) pp. 49–64. (Fishing News Books: Oxford, UK.)

Naughton, G. P. , Caudill, C. C. , Keefer, M. L. , Bjorn, T. C. , Stuehrenberg, L. C. , and Peery, C. A. (2005). Late-season mortality during migration of radio-tagged adult sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) in the Columbia River. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 62, 30–47.
CrossRef |

Nelson, D. R. (1990). Telemetry studies of sharks: A review, with applications in resource management. NOAA Technical Reports NMFS 90, 239–256.

O’Dor, R. K. , Andrade, Y. , Webber, D. M. , Sauer, W. H. H. , Roberts, M. J. , Smale, M. J. , and Voegeli, F. M. (1998). Applications and performance of radio-acoustic positioning and telemetry (RAPT) systems. Hydrobiologia 371/372, 1–8.
CrossRef |

Ohta, I. , and Kakuma, S. (2005). Periodic behavior and residence time of yellowfin and bigeye tuna associated with fish aggregating devices around Okinawa Islands, as identified with automated listening stations. Marine Biology 146, 581–594.
CrossRef |

Simpfendorfer, C. A. , Heupel, M. R. , and Hueter, R. E. (2002). Estimation of short-term centers of activity from an array of omnidirectional hydrophones, and its use in studying animal movements. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 59, 23–32.
CrossRef |

Standora, E. A. , and Nelson, D. R. (1977). A telemetric study of the behavior of free-swimming Pacific angel sharks, Squatina californica. Southern California Academy of Sciences 76, 193–201.

Stark, K. E. , Jackson, G. D. , and Lyle, J. M. (2005). Tracking arrow squid movements with an automated acoustic telemetry system. Marine Ecology Progress Series 299, 167–177.

Starr, R. M. , Heine, J. N. , Felton, J. M. , and Cailliet, G. M. (2002). Movements of bocaccio (Sebastes paucispinis) and greenspotted (S. chlorostictus) rockfishes in a Monterey submarine canyon: implications for the design of marine reserves. Fishery Bulletin 100, 324–337.

Thorstad, E. B. , Økland, F. , Rowsell, D. , and McKinley, R. S. (2000). A system for automatic recording of fish tagged with coded acoustic transmitters. Fisheries Management and Ecology 7, 281–294.
CrossRef |

Thorstad, E. B. , Økland, F. , Finstad, B. , Silvertsgård, R. , Bjorn, P. A. , and McKinley, R. S. (2004). Migration and orientation of Atlantic salmon and sea trout post-smolts in a Norwegian fjord system. Environmental Biology of Fishes 71, 305–311.
CrossRef |

Tulevech, S. M. , and Recksiek, C. W. (1994). Acoustic tracking of adult white grunt, Haemulon plumieri, in Puerto Rico and Florida. Fisheries Research 19, 301–319.
CrossRef |

Voegeli F. A., and Pincock D. G. (1996). Overview of underwater acoustics as it applies to telemetry. In ‘Underwater Biotelemetry’. (Eds E. Baras and J. C. Philippart.) pp. 23–30. (University of Liege: Liege.)

Voegeli, F. A. , Lacroix, G. L. , and Anderson, J. M. (1998). Development of miniature pingers for tracking Atlantic salmon smolts at sea. Hydrobiologia 371–372, 35–46.
CrossRef |

Voegeli, F. A. , Smale, M. J. , Webber, D. M. , Andrade, Y. , and O’Dor, R. K. (2001). Ultrasonic telemetry, tracking and automated monitoring technology for sharks. Environmental Biology of Fishes 60, 267–281.
CrossRef |

Walker, R. V. , Myers, K. W. , Davis, N. D. , Aydin, K. Y. , Friedland, K. D. , Carlson, H. R. , Boehlert, G. W. , Urawa, S. , Ueno, Y. , and Anma, G. (2000). Diurnal variation in thermal environment experienced by salmonids in the North Pacific as indicated by data storage tags. Fisheries Oceanography 9, 171–186.
CrossRef |

Welch, D. W. , Boehlert, G. W. , and Ward, B. R. (2003). POST – the Pacific Ocean salmon tracking project. Oceanologica Acta 25, 243–253.
CrossRef |

Welch, D. W. , Ward, B. R. , and Batten, S. D. (2004). Early ocean survival and marine movements of hatchery and wild steelhead trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) determined by an acoustic array: Queen Charlotte Strait, British Columbia. Deep-Sea Research. Part II, Topical Studies in Oceanography 51, 897–909.
CrossRef |

Rent Article (via Deepdyve) Export Citation Cited By (246)

View Altmetrics