A comparison of model-based and hyperbolic localization techniques as applied to marine mammal calls
A common technique for the passive acoustic localization of singing marine mammals is that of hyperbolic fixing. This technique assumes straight-line, constant wave speed acoustic propagation to associate travel time with range, but in some geometries, these assumptions can lead to localization errors. A new localization algorithm based on acoustic propagation models can account for waveguide and multipath effects, and it has successfully been tested against real acoustic data from three different environments (Hawaii, California, and Bahamas) and three different species (humpback, blue, and sperm whales). Accuracy of the model-based approach has been difficult to verify given the absence of concurrent visual and acoustic observations of the same animal. However, the model-based algorithm was recently exercised against a controlled source of known position broadcasting recorded whale sounds, and location estimates were then compared to hyperbolic techniques and true source position. In geometries where direct acoustic paths exist, both model-based and hyperbolic techniques perform equally well. However, in geometries where bathymetric and refractive effects are important, such as at long range, the model-based approach shows improved accuracy.