Observing individual fish behavior in fish aggregations: Tracking in dense fish aggregations using a split-beam echosounder
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Acoustic instruments are important tools for observing the behavior of aquatic organisms. This paper presents a simple but efficient method for improving the tracking of closely spaced targets using a split-beam echosounder. The traditional method has been a stepwise approach from the detection of echoes, rejection of apparently multiple targets and then tracking the remainder. This is inefficient because the split-beam angles are not included in the initial detection; rather they are only used in the rejection criteria before the subsequent tracking. A simple track-before-detection method is presented, where the phase angles, echo intensities, ranges, and times are used simultaneously, resulting in better detection and tracking of the individual fish. Two test data sets were analyzed to determine the effectiveness of this method at discriminating individual tracks from within dense fish aggregations. The first data set was collected by lowering a split-beam transducer into a herring layer. The second data set, also collected with a split-beam transducer, was from a caged aggregation of feeding herring larvae. Results indicate the potential of target tracking, using a split-beam echosounder, as a tool for understanding interindividual behavior.