Welcome to the Acoustic Scattering Laboratory at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution . We are a part of the Ocean Acoustics and Signals Laboratory of the Applied Ocean Physics and Engineering department. Our research focuses on the scattering of sound in the ocean by zooplankton (and other things such as turbulence).
Why would anyone care about this? Well, if you ever eat seafood, have enjoyed watching whales, or gone bass fishing then what we do is important ( heck, it's important even if you haven't done those things. ) Zooplankton are generally categorized by the fact that they are animals that travel passively within the ocean currents. They are one of the lower levels of the oceanic food chain. They eat smaller zooplanktors and phytoplankton. In return they are eaten by larger zooplankton, fish, and even whales!
Currently scientists want to know what kind of animals and how many of them are located in a given part of the ocean. While doing net tows or sending divers down to look at the animals is a very effective way of discovering what animals are where, it is also very expensive and time consuming. Using acoustics allows us to look at the energy that is scattered back to the ship by the animals. By knowing something about what type of animals are normally found in this area and how an individual animal scatters sound, we can estimate how many animals are in a given area. Acoustics lets us cover much larger areas of the ocean, and also much deeper into the water column.
Please look around our web arena, we have descriptions of equipment and people involved in the research here. If you have any questions or want more information, don't hesitate to contact us .