African Journal of Marine Science

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Design and calibration of an acoustic telemetry system subject to upwelling events

L Singh, NJ Downey, MJ Roberts, DM Webber, MJ Smale, MA van den Berg, RT Harding, DC Engelbrecht, BM Blows


The experiments described were designed to calibrate a hexagonal array of VEMCO VR2 receivers and transmitters (model V9P-6L-S256) in isothermal and stratified water columns off the south coast of South Africa. The array, configured with 500 m between receivers, was  designed to study the influence of water temperature and turbidity on the spawning behaviour of chokka squid Loligo reynaudii. Range tests comprised fixing a single VR2 receiver 2 m from the seabed and placing  a V9P transmitter at distances of 0 m, 75 m, 150 m, 225 m, 300 m, 375  m, 450 m and 500 m from the receiver for periods of 10 minutes at each position under isothermal conditions and in the presence of a  thermocline. The data indicated a range of 300 m for the former and 75 m for the latter conditions. The field performance of the V9P transmitter in a non-stratified water column compared well with the theoretical range of 352 m calculated using software to calculate  range. System saturation was investigated by repeating the range test using four, eight and 14 transmitters simultaneously. Field data indicated a significant decrease in signal detections due to signal collisions when more than eight transmitters were active simultaneously. It was demonstrated that the hexagonal configuration  of VR2s is optimal during isothermal conditions but inadequate during stratified conditions when acoustic dead zones of 350 m between VR2  receivers can occur.

Keywords: acoustic telemetry; isothermal; system saturation; thermocline; transmitter range

African Journal of Marine Science 2009, 31(1): 355–364
AJOL African Journals Online