Designing and Testing of Sonar Apparatus to Record and Analyze Acoustic Vocalizations of La Plata Dolphins (Pontoporia blainvillei)

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Project Type: 

Students Involved:

Paul E. Gamache, Jr. UNH - Department of Mechanical Engineering
Christopher M. Anason UNH - Department of Mechanical Engineering
Samuel L. Lightner UNH - Department of Mechanical Engineering

Faculty Advisors:

Kenneth Baldwin UNH - Department of Mechanical Engineering

The accidental drowning of large marine animals due to miles of unprotected fishing nets is a common problem seen around the world today. Although global warming remains one of the key dangers facing endangered species, deaths caused by net strangulation remains an important and dangerous issue facing marine mammals. The use of pinger nets, or nets with acoustic noisemakers attached, has drastically reduced the number of accidental deaths of many species; however, species such as the La Plata River dolphin remain largely unstudied and therefore remain vulnerable to many nets. The design of a structure capable of holding the dolphin under minimal stress, while accurately recording its vocalizations is highly desirable. Data obtained using this structure can then be closely analyzed to obtain some idea of how the La Plata Dolphin communicates. Moderate understanding of the dolphin's vocalization patterns will be crucial to reducing the large number of dolphins killed along South America's coastline each year. Though unable to perform testing of live animals through the scope of this project, sample data was acquired using Labview software and analyzed using MATLAB, giving valuable technical information pertaining to the acoustic data acquisition software used for recording.


Available from the National Sea Grant Library (use NHU number to search) or NH Sea Grant


  • Designing and testing of sonar apparatus to record and analyze acoustic vocalizations of La Plata dolphins ("Pontoporia blainvillei") (2007). Paul Gamache, Jr., Christopher Anason and Samuel Lightner. Advisor: Kenneth Baldwin.