Scientists develop hydroacoustic system that imitates cetacean signals

Scientists develop hydroacoustic system that imitates cetacean signals

21 November 2022

Scientists from the St Petersburg State Electrotechnical University LETI have developed a hydroacoustic system that imitates signals made by cetaceans, including dolphins and beluga whales, according to the website of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation.


“The unique hydroacoustic system developed at ETU LETI imitates the echolocation used by cetaceans, such as dolphins and beluga whales, to navigate in space and determine the location of objects around them. The specialists managed to reproduce and even repeated to some extent the signal that dolphins make, and created working models of the devices,” the report says.


Dolphins and beluga whales make characteristic sounds like clicks and creaks, many of which are inaudible to humans due to the high frequencies. It is these ultrasonic signals that marine animals use for sonar. Depending on what an animal needs – echolocation or communication – the spatio-temporal and spectral structure of the pulsed acoustic signals they emit changes. Cetaceans have the ability to find objects, despite the noise from signals produced by other cetaceans when hunting for fish. According to the experts, this shows the uniqueness of cetaceans’ echolocation system, which improved in the process of evolution.


The LETI scientists studied the ability of marine life to echolocate and created a hydroacoustic system that uses similar ultrasonic pulses.


“Our development has a wide range of applications, for example, for searching for or classifying underwater objects, including schools of fish, submersibles and sunken ships. The system can also be used for underwater geological exploration, monitoring, protecting marine facilities (water transport, coastal facilities and drilling stations) from illegal entry, taking hydroacoustic measurements, and building adaptive hydroacoustic systems for communication with trained cetaceans,” explained Boris Stepanov, associate professor of the Department of Electroacoustics and Ultrasonic Technology at the St Petersburg Electrotechnical University LETI.