DOI: 10.1121/10.0022895 ISSN: 0001-4966

Abandon FLIP! The following being a completely unembellished and sober account of a disastrous field experiment with Doug Cato, with side comments on his subtle influences on bioacoustic animal tracking

Aaron M. Thode
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

I have only been to sea once with Doug Cato, as a graduate student. It did not end well. In 1996 the R/P FLIP, a manned spar buoy, was deployed off the coast of San Diego to test advanced passive acoustic tracking methods on baleen whales, with Doug along as an invited guest. He had long been interested in acoustic means of localizing whales and was one of the first scientists to suggest using relative differences between received levels on hydrophones (instead of just the relative timing) for fixing an animal call’s location [JASA 104(3), 1667–1678]. This idea is the fundamental basis behind “matched-field processing” (MFP), the technique behind the FLIP test. The trip was supposed to collect three weeks of data; instead, it collected 42 h. This presentation will explain the challenges of abandoning a vessel at sea, and why garbage scows are underappreciated. It will also explain my brief involvement in Mike Noad’s and Doug Cato’s HARC field experiment as part of another MFP demonstration, and why that did not end very well either. Interlaced with these tales of disaster is a review of how Doug’s thoughts on animal tracking have re-emerged under a variety of circumstances, especially in arctic bioacoustics.

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