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Tracking Time Differences of Arrivals of Multiple Sound Sources in the Presence of Clutter and Missed Detections

November 05, 2021

This study proposes a multi-target tracking method to automate TDOA tracking demonstrated on false killer whale recordings from Hawaiian waters.

Acoustic line transect surveys are often used in combination with visual methods to estimate the abundance of marine mammal populations. 

These surveys typically use towed linear hydrophone arrays and estimate the time differences of arrival (TDOAs) of the signal of interest between the pairs of hydrophones. The signal source TDOAs or bearings are then tracked through time to estimate the animal position, often manually. The process of estimating TDOAs from data and tracking them through time can be especially challenging in the presence of multiple acoustically active sources, missed detections, and clutter (false TDOAs). 

This study proposes a multi-target tracking method to automate TDOA tracking. The problem formulation is based on the Gaussian mixture probability hypothesis density filter and includes multiple sources, source appearance and disappearance, missed detections, and false alarms. It is shown that by using an extended measurement model and combining measurements from broadband echolocation clicks and narrowband whistles, more information can be extracted from the acoustic encounters. The method is demonstrated on false killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens) recordings from Hawaiian waters.


Gruden P, Nosal EM, Oleson E (2021). Tracking time differences of arrivals of multiple sound sources in the presence of clutter and missed detections. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 150(5), 3399–3416. https://doi.org/10.1121/10.0006780

Last updated by Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center on 12/03/2021