Acoustical oceanography is the study of sound propagation in the ocean and its underlying sediments.
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This ranges from the earliest use of depth soundings to chart the ocean floor to the use of SONAR to locate schools of fish, underwater vehicles and ocean drifters to the most recent applications of acoustic tomography to infer large-scale properties of the ocean and the ocean floor.
Applications for research
There are numerous applications that are employed by researchers and military forces including:
- Tracking of marine biota, such as fish schools and individual cetaceans
- Mapping of the ocean flloor
- Tracking of marine vessels, both surface and submarine
- Discerning salinity, thermal and density gradients
Marine animal use
Many marine mammals and other smaller faunal organisms use acoustical echolocation and underwater communication for a variety of purposes; movement of ocean vessels and their use of underwater acoustic signals can interfere with these faunal communications. Some of the specific animal uses of underwater acoustics are:
- Locating prey
- Estimating distance from coastlines and ocean bottom (e.g. migration aid)
- Communicating with other members of a pod