Acoustics Australia

, Volume 45, Issue 2, pp 301–311 | Cite as

Developing an Underwater Sound Recorder: The Long and Short (Time) of It...

  • Robert D. McCauley
  • Frank Thomas
  • Miles J. G. Parsons
  • Christine Erbe
  • Douglas H. Cato
  • Alec J. Duncan
  • Alexander N. Gavrilov
  • Iain M. Parnum
  • Chandra P. Salgado-Kent
Original Paper


Passive acoustic recording of marine noise has advanced considerably over recent years. For a long time, a lack of widely available technology limited the acquisition of long-term acoustic data sets to a small number of large, cabled installations mostly restricted to military use. For other users, recordings were limited by the available technology to short snapshots of minutes to possibly days of data at a time. As technology has improved, passive acoustic monitoring has shown marine soundscapes are filled with biotic and abiotic sounds that occur on a range of often unpredictable timescales. Thus, snapshot recordings can lead to biased data. In 1999, the Centre for Marine Science and Technology, together with Australia’s Defence Science and Technology Organisation, began developing remote underwater sound recorders to increase the duration and quality of recordings. As time passed, the sound recorders were developed significantly, have been deployed over 600 times at a variety of Australian and international locations and have identified a plethora of biological, geophysical and anthropogenic sound sources. This paper presents a brief history of the recorders’ development and characteristics, some examples of the information they have provided and future direction for their next generation.


Underwater noise Passive acoustic monitoring Soundscape Long-term soundscape monitoring Ecoacoustics 



The Defence Science and Technology Group (previously DSTO) is acknowledged for funding and involvement in the development of these systems. Funding sources from Defence to the Petroleum Industry that are too many to mention individually, so are all thanked for enabling the study of the marine world using the USRs for so many years. The Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS) has supported the use of USRs since 2008. IMOS is supported by the Australian Government through the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy and the Super Science Initiative. Malcolm Perry has been intrinsic in the design and testing of various deployment and retrieval systems, while Dave Minchin has been incredibly involved in designs of the most recent system iterations.


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Copyright information

© Australian Acoustical Society 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert D. McCauley
    • 1
  • Frank Thomas
    • 1
  • Miles J. G. Parsons
    • 1
  • Christine Erbe
    • 1
  • Douglas H. Cato
    • 2
    • 3
  • Alec J. Duncan
    • 1
  • Alexander N. Gavrilov
    • 1
  • Iain M. Parnum
    • 1
  • Chandra P. Salgado-Kent
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Marine Science and TechnologyCurtin UniversityPerthWestern Australia
  2. 2.Defence Science and Technology GroupEveleighAustralia
  3. 3.University of SydneySydneyAustralia

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