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Periodically I am asked for recommendations on where to purchase a towed hydrophone array, or how to build one. For years we developed/built towed arrays and have shared these methods (last version available here, note this is somewhat outdated). We also worked with a few companies to develop a volumetric array (see here).

Many researchers do not have the capability to build their own hydrophones, and we no longer conduct surveys using towed arrays and I am not aware of the current state of towed array development.

Is anyone aware of options to build, purchase, or rent towed hydrophone arrays?

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The Conservation Tech Directory includes a bunch of hydrophone manufacturers, but I am not a marine bioacoustician so I don't proclaim to make any recommendations - just wanted to point out this resource for people who want to search for different manufacturers/options! :)

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    $\begingroup$ This directory seems ideal and it would be great resource for industry and for those of us who develop how-to for building hardware. Thank you! $\endgroup$
    – Shannon
    Jul 11, 2022 at 14:16
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    $\begingroup$ To follow up-- would recommend that all other options (vendors, links to do-it-yourself manuals, etc) post their links in this directory. I hope that eventually this directory could expand to allow for more advanced search for specific hardware options (among other things). Thanks! $\endgroup$
    – Shannon
    Jul 13, 2022 at 23:17
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    $\begingroup$ Anyone can submit a new resource! Just fill out this Google Form: docs.google.com/forms/d/e/…. Also can access through the directory website. So if you know of something that should be there but isn't, we do ~monthly updates of new resources (both ones Gracie & I have found in that time and crowd-sourced ones from the form). We are a bit bandwidth-limited as making/running this is a volunteer side-project for us, which is why we have the form to crowd-source new resources! $\endgroup$ Jul 14, 2022 at 1:47
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As an alternative to traditional towed hydrophone arrays, you could consider a towed autonomous recorder. This system is towed with a non-conducting (rope) towline and all the electronics are underwater in a flooded tow housing. This can be a miniature single channel recorder with an integrated hydrophone (like the ST300/400) or (better) a multichannel recorder (like the ST440) with an array of 2 or more hydrophones. This kind of system does not provide any real-time information (such as is needed for mitigation) but can provide improved signal quality at lower cost and without the need for a dedicated at-sea technician to keep it working. I've had success with this system deployed from vessels of opportunity (see report https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0967064521000497). Previously, tow housings for hydrophone recorders were not commercially available, so I started building them. Contact me ([email protected]) if you are interested in more information.

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IMHO, the instructions you and Jay published (and you referenced) is by far the best method to build your own towed array. OK, electronics may need some check on availability of components, ceramics are difficult to find, etc.

However,

  • towed array are on one side simple, but need continuous maintenance. If someone can maintain a towed array, they can also build one.
  • towed array may not be the best solution for bioacoustics, as the idea you can do acoustics and at the same time move fast through the ocean is somewhat unrealistic (own ship noise, too shallow tow depth, limitation in manoeuvring, etc.) There must be a reason why your organization does not anymore carry out acoustic surveys.
  • I always suggest to consider alternative solutions (e.g. do visual observation as usual, but deploy acoustic sensors the drift with recording acoustic sensors for the period of your survey), but such an approach needs still some persuasion. OK, deployment and recovery need some additional time.
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    $\begingroup$ For what it is worth- we no longer have a need to do real-time towed array work and cannot justify the resources (and bunk space) required to maintain equipment and collect data in real time at sea. We are shifting to autonomous towed arrays for our region. There are definitely times where real-time monitoring is needed, but I 100% agree that it is no small task to maintain and use this equipment! $\endgroup$
    – Shannon
    Jul 6, 2022 at 13:40
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Re: purchasing and rental - check out Vanishing Point Marine (UK-based) for towed hydrophone arrays, complete with real-time monitoring capabilities.

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Two additional companies that provide much of the towed array system leasing in the U.S. are Seiche and MSEIS!

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Contact GeoSpectrum Technologies Inc. www.geospectrum.ca They build them to spec.

I am not sure why this was deleted by a mod. The question was where can we get a towed array and I answered that the company that I work for builds them to spec.

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  • $\begingroup$ I agree the answer should not be deleted or downgraded. But you could have done a better job and e.g. providing a link to the towed array section. Also, you should have mentioned the vectorsensor GeoSpectrum builds and is also used by bio-acousticians. The latter was not asked for but would remove the suspicion of a commercial spam. $\endgroup$
    – WMXZ
    Nov 19, 2022 at 18:05
  • $\begingroup$ All really good points thank you :) $\endgroup$
    – Sean Kelly
    Nov 20, 2022 at 20:47

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