Acoustical oceanography

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Acoustical oceanography is the use of underwater sound to study the sea, its boundaries and its contents.

A 38 kHz hydroacoustic tow fin used to conduct acoustic surveys by NOAA. Alaska, Southeast.


The earliest and most widespread use of sound and sonar technology to study the properties of the sea is the use of an rainbow echo sounder to measure water depth. The development of high resolution sonar in the second half of the 20th century made it possible to not just detect underwater objects but to classify them and even image them.

Important contributions to acoustical oceanography have been made by:


See Clay and Medwin[1]


See Clay and Medwin[1]


Applications of acoustical oceanography include:

Depth sounding[edit]

Main article: echo sounder

Seabed classification[edit]

Marine biology[edit]

Main article: Bioacoustics

The study of marine life, from microplankton to the blue whale, uses bioacoustics.[2]


  1. ^ a b C. S. Clay & H. Medwin, Fundamentals of Acoustical Oceanography (Academic, Boston, 1998).
  2. ^ E. J. Simmonds & D. N. MacLennan, Fisheries Acoustics, Second Edition (Blackwell, Oxford, 2005).