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Keywords:

  • acoustic reflectivity of nets;
  • incidental take of dolphins by gillnets;
  • dolphin sonar detection of nets

Abstract

Sonar target strength measurements of several types of nets and associated gear were made using simulated dolphin echolocation signals. The different types of nets included (a) standard commercial monofilament gillnet used in the salmon mothership fishery, (b) prototype hollow core monofilament net, (c) Macah tribal cord setnet, and (d) multifilament nets. Target strength measurements were made at four angles of incidence, 0° (normal to net), 15°, 30°, and 45°. The standard gillnet had the smallest target strength which was relatively independent of the angle of incidence. The target strength based on the peak-to-peak values of the echoes varied from –59 to – 62 dB. Using echo energy within the integration time of Tursiops truncatus, the target strength was found to be between – 54 and –59 dB. Biosonar detection ranges for different sea state conditions were estimated using the noise-limited form of the sonar equation and target detection data obtained for Tursiops truncatus in Kaneohe Bay, Oahu, Hawaii. The results suggest that an echolocating dolphin should be able to detect a gillnet at ranges long enough to avoid entanglement, even in sea state 6 conditions. Several possibilities for the seeming inability of dolphins to detect gillnets are discussed.