Dolphin-Inspired Target Detection for Sonar and Radar

Journal title

Archives of Acoustics




No 3

Publication authors


sonar, radar, cetacean, dolphin, whale, mines, explosives, nonlinear, wake

Divisions of PAS

Nauki Techniczne


Gas bubbles in the ocean are produced by breaking waves, rainfall, methane seeps, exsolution, and a range of biological processes including decomposition, photosynthesis, respiration and digestion. However one biological process that produces particularly dense clouds of large bubbles, is bubble netting. This is practiced by several species of cetacean. Given their propensity to use acoustics, and the powerful acoustical attenuation and scattering that bubbles can cause, the relationship between sound and bub- ble nets is intriguing. It has been postulated that humpback whales produce ‘walls of sound’ at audio frequencies in their bubble nets, trapping prey. Dolphins, on the other hand, use high frequency acous- tics for echolocation. This begs the question of whether, in producing bubble nets, they are generating echolocation clutter that potentially helps prey avoid detection (as their bubble nets would do with man- made sonar), or whether they have developed sonar techniques to detect prey within such bubble nets and distinguish it from clutter. Possible sonar schemes that could detect targets in bubble clouds are proposed, and shown to work both in the laboratory and at sea. Following this, similar radar schemes are proposed for the detection of buried explosives and catastrophe victims, and successful laboratory tests are undertaken.


Committee on Acoustics PAS, PAS Institute of Fundamental Technological Research, Polish Acoustical Society


ISSN 0137-5075 ; eISSN 2300-262X