Listening to the deep: Exploring marine soundscape variability by information retrieval techniques

Presentation in the session of Lidar and Passive observing sensors, Oceans’18 Kobe

Listening to the deep: Exploring marine soundscape variability by information retrieval techniques

Tzu-Hao Lin1,2, Yu Tsao2

1Department of Marine Biodiversity Research, Japan Agency of Marine-Earth Science and Technology, Yokosuka, Japan
2Research Center for Information Technology Innovation, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan

Information on the dynamics of the deep-sea ecosystem is essential for conservation management. The marine soundscape has been considered as an acoustical sensing
platform to investigate geophysical events, marine biodiversity, and human activities. However, analysis of the marine soundscape remains difficult because of the influence of simultaneous sound sources. In this study, we integrated machine learning-based information retrieval techniques to analyze the variability of the marine soundscape off northeastern Taiwan. A long-term spectral average was employed to visualize the longduration recordings of the Marine Cable Hosted Observatory (MACHO). Biotic and abiotic soundscape components were separated by applying periodicity-coded nonnegative matrix factorization. Finally, various acoustic events were identified
using k-means clustering. Our results show that the MACHO recordings of June 2012 contain multiple sound sources. Cetacean vocalizations, an unidentified biological chorus, environmental noise, and system noise can be accurately separated without an audio recognition database. Cetacean vocalizations were primarily detected at night, which is consistent with the detection results of two rule-based detectors. The unidentified biological chorus, ranging between 2 and 3 kHz, was primarily recorded between 7 p.m. and midnight during the studied period. On the basis of source separation, more acoustic events can be identified in the clustering result. The proposed
information retrieval techniques effectively reduce the difficulty in the analysis of marine soundscape. The unsupervised approach of source separation and clustering can improve the investigation regarding the temporal behavior and spectral characteristics of different sound sources. Based on the findings in the present study, we believe that variability of the deep-sea ecosystem can be efficiently investigated by combining the
soundscape information retrieval techniques and cabled hydrophone networks in the future.

Full text is available at:


5th Joint Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America and Acoustical Society of Japan

2016/11/28-12/2 @ Honolulu, USA

Acoustic response of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins to the variability of marine soundscape

Tzu-Hao Lin, Yu Tsao
Research Center for Information Technology Innovation, Academia Sinica

Shih-Hau Fang
Department of Electrical Engineering, Yuan Ze University

Chih-Kai Yang, Lien-Siang Chou
Institute of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, National Taiwan University

Marine mammals can adjust their vocal behaviors when they encounter anthropogenic noise. The acoustic divergence among different populations has also been considered as the effect of ambient noise. The recent studies discover that the marine soundscape is highly dynamic; however, it remains unclear how marine mammals alter their vocal behaviors under various acoustic environments. In this study, autonomous sound recorders were deployed in western Taiwan waters between 2012 and 2015. Soundscape scenes were unsupervised classified according to acoustic features measured in each 5 min interval. Non-negative matrix factorization was used to separate different scenes and to inverse the temporal occurrence of each soundscape scene. Echolocation clicks and whistles of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins, which represent the only marine mammal species occurred in the study area, were automatically detected and analyzed. The preliminary result indicates the soundscape scenes dominated by biological sounds are correlated with the acoustic detection rate of humpback dolphins. Besides, the dolphin whistles are much complex when the prey associated scene is prominent in the local soundscape. In the future, the soundscape information may be used to predict the occurrence and habitat use of marine mammals.

Oceanoise Asia 2016


Characterization of the marine soundscape at the core habitat of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins

Tzu-Hao Lin, Lien-Siang Chou
Institute of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, National Taiwan University

Shane Guan
Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service, Silver Spring, MD, USA

The soundscape in shallow waters displays a high level of spatial variation due to the difference in ocean environments, biological communities, and human activities. Many marine animals rely on sound for orientation; therefore, the soundscape has been hypothesized as one of the environmental indicators for marine animals. The population of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins in western Taiwan waters is critically endangered. The anthropogenic noise might alter the marine soundscape evidently. However, the importance of soundscape for the habitat selection of cetacean remains unclear until now. In this study, underwater recorders were deployed in inshore waters to compare the difference of soundscape between the core habitat and non-core habitat of humpback dolphins. The result indicates that the composition of soundscape scene is different among our recording stations. At the core habitat, soundscape was characterized by the nighttime chorus of croakers and the quiet ambient sound in the daytime. On the contrary, snapping shrimp sounds represent the most dominated sound at the non-core habitats. The current result indicates that humpback dolphins prefer soundscape dominated by the chorus of their prey resources. The potential impacts of human activities on marine soundscape should be carefully evaluated in the future.

2016 動物行為暨生態研討會





Shane Guan



Conference presentation: 21st Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals

13-18 Dec 2015

A noisy dinner? Passive acoustic monitoring on the predator-prey interactions between Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins and croakers

Tzu-Hao Lin, Wen-Ching Lien, Chih-Kai Yang, and Lien-Siang Chou
Institute of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, National Taiwan University

Shane Guan
Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service, Silver Spring, MD, USA

The spatio-temporal dynamics of prey resources have been considered as important factors for shaping the distribution and behavior of odontocetes. Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin (Sousa chinensis) is a costal species, which primary feeds on benthic croakers. It has been hypothesized that the distribution pattern and periodic occurrence of humpback dolphins are results of their prey movement. However, the interactions between humpback dolphins and croakers remain unclear. During May 2013 and November 2014, underwater sound recordings were collected in western Taiwan waters. Croaker choruses and humpback dolphin echolocation clicks were automatically detected using custom developed algorithms. Both croaker choruses and dolphin clicks were frequently detected in shallow estuarine waters during spring and summer. In addition, shorter inter-click intervals were detected with higher frequencies in these areas, indicating more likely foraging behavior. Current results suggest that the core habitats of humpback dolphins show an agreement with the areas of prominent croaker chorus. Diurnal cycle analysis showed that croaker choruses were most evident after sunset to until approximately 4 A.M. In estuarine waters, humpback dolphin clicks were most frequently detected during the nighttime, with reduced detection rates after 8 A.M. This suggests that the diurnal behavior of humpback dolphins could be associated with the calling behavior of croakers. Although whether the position of a calling croaker could be passively localized by a dolphin remains unknown, our results indicate that the foraging probability of humpback dolphins may be elevated during the nighttime chorus of croakers. Information regarding the spatio-temporal dynamics of croaker chorus can be important for the conservation management of humpback dolphins. Further details on the predator-prey interactions between humpback dolphins and croakers can be investigated by using hydrophone arrays.

Poster (pdf)

[聲物誌] 白海豚之家


白海豚所生活的海洋是甚麼樣子的? 在混濁的海中只能仰賴聽覺了解一切,海表面下的浪花、雨聲、水流聲,透漏了所在之處的環境與位置,更聽見了各種海洋生物活動的蹤跡。聽著哨聲在旅途中尋找同伴,社交之外也合作覓食,但記得小心高速開過的船隻,不注意的話可是會命喪黃泉的。越來越頻繁的噪音,降低了聽到同伴聲音的機會,也減少了利用聲音來尋找食物的效率。這是白海豚的家園,一個正受到噪音侵蝕的海洋。

New article online: Automatic classification of delphinids based on the representative frequencies of whistles

Our new article which introduce a new method of using representative frequency distribution to classify delphinid species has been published in the Journal of Acoustical Society of America. Please contact me if you are interested in the pdf copy or the algorithm.

Automatic classification of delphinids based on the representative frequencies of whistles

J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 138, 1003 (2015);

Tzu-Hao Lin, Lien-Siang Chou
Institute of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, National Taiwan University, Number 1, Section 4, Roosevelt Road, Taipei 10617, Taiwan

Classification of odontocete species remains a challenging task for passive acoustic monitoring. Classifiers that have been developed use spectral features extracted from echolocation clicks and whistle contours. Most of these contour-based classifiers require complete contours to reduce measurement errors. Therefore, overlapping contours and partially detected contours in an automatic detection algorithm may increase the bias for contour-based classifiers. In this study, classification was conducted on each recording section without extracting individual contours. The local-max detector was used to extract representative frequencies of delphinid whistles and each section was divided into multiple non-overlapping fragments. Three acoustical parameters were measured from the distribution of representative frequencies in each fragment. By using the statistical features of the acoustical parameters and the percentage of overlapping whistles, correct classification rate of 70.3% was reached for the recordings of seven species (Tursiops truncatus, Delphinus delphis, Delphinus capensis, Peponocephala electra, Grampus griseus, Stenella longirostris longirostris, and Stenella attenuata) archived in In addition, correct classification rate was not dramatically reduced in various simulated noise conditions. This algorithm can be employed in acoustic observatories to classify different delphinid species and facilitate future studies on the community ecology of odontocetes.