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Radar-Based Detection, Tracking and Speciation of Marine Mammals from Ships

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In addition to ship strikes, another cause of marine mammal injury and death is from exposure to high acoustic source levels, e.g., those encountered during Navy-sponsored Low Frequency Active LFA sonar tests. Irrespective of the method of mammal injury or death, the act of injuring or killing whales can and does result in litigation proceedings. This is a consequence of the legal protection that Cetaceans whales and dolphins are granted in U.S. waters by the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 as amended in 1994, with some species additionally protected by the Endangered Species Act of 1973. Previously developed mitigation technologies, such as passive acoustic and visual observation, although promising, still fall significantly short of achieving the detection performance necessary to achieve full marine mammal mitigation. Radar surveillance technology, being developed under the current supported program, represents a fundamental paradigm shift and new approach toward the goal of achieving robust marine mammal mitigation. The eventual long-term goal of this work, if successful under the baseline and option programs, is to develop and transition this new radar surveillance technology to both the military and commercial fleets. The primary benefit would be the mitigation of harmful effects on marine mammals due to acoustic testing and ship strikes. The overall objective of the baseline effort, initiated approximately August 1, 2004, is to establish the ability of current or planned ship-based radars, augmented by specialized signal processing, to detect, discriminate and track geo-locate a number of different marine mammal species e.g., great whales, schooling dolphins, etc. under a variety of representative sea environments e.g., Atlantic, Pacific, Mediterranean, etc.. Key to this assessment will be an initial, ship-based radar demonstration experiment planned for May, 2005 in the Mediterranean Sea.

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  • Biology
  • Active and Passive Radar Detection and Equipment
  • Target Direction, Range and Position Finding

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