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Rachael with her research poster

Rachael Aber

University of Portland

Project: Fish Vertical Distribution and Marine Mammal Co-Occurrence off Cape Hatteras, NC

This summer, I was fortunate enough to work with Dr. John K. Horne through JISAO’s Research Internship for Undergraduates. My project involved processing and analyzing active and passive acoustic data gathered off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Active acoustic data was collected via two transducers mounted on a mooring (the Duke Wizard). Passive acoustic data collected by a HARP (High-frequency Acoustic Recording Package) was provided by Dr. Doug Nowacek from Duke University. Both datasets were collected in 2016 over the course of several months.

The first step in the project was to perform a calibration procedure to ensure that replay of the active acoustic data in Echoview software allowed for accurate interpretation. Visualization of  the active acoustic data as an echogram allowed for classification of regions to be excluded and filters to be applied. After data export and concatenation, calculation of four metrics indicative of prey field characteristics (i.e. patchiness, etc.) was possible, and these metrics were then sorted/binned to allow comparison to environmental data and to passive acoustic data. Potential predator-prey interactions were inferred from correlations between the four metrics and passive acoustic counts of marine mammal vocalizations.

My experience in Seattle outside of the project was also fulfilling and enjoyable. I was able to explore Seattle with the other interns, including going into the city center and strolling along the downtown waterfront. This summer exceeded my expectations and I would like to express my gratitude for my dedicated mentor and his lab members, my wonderful new friends, and for all those at JISAO who made this internship possible.

Rachael's research poster