|Monitoring dolphin health and welfare using a new, NMMF Welfare Acoustic Monitoring System (WAMS)|
|Brijonnay C. Madrigal1, Brittany L. Jones1, Mark Baird1, Michael Oswald2, Sam H. Ridgway1. 1National Marine Mammal Foundation, San Diego, California, United States; 2University of St. Andrews, St. Andrews, Fife, United Kingdom
Marine mammals rely on acoustic communication for mating, individual recognition, foraging coordination and maintaining group cohesion. Advancements in passive acoustic monitoring technology have allowed scientists to study species abundance, migration patterns, habitat use, and communication in previously inaccessible locations and for elusive species. However, large scale survey efforts are expensive due to equipment costs and personnel required. PAMGuard is an open-source modular program that allows scientists to create plug-ins to improve the automation of passive acoustic monitoring to make it cost-effective, reliable and user-friendly. We introduce NMMF Welfare Acoustic Monitoring System (WAMS), a new, open-source PAMGuard plug-in which integrates existing detectors and localizer features to streamline data analyses and reduce visual post-processing time for PAM operators up to four times. NMMF WAMS provides real-time reports and email notification capabilities for monitoring marine mammal sound production. Although, originally built to monitor a discrete bottlenose dolphin population in managed care, we discuss the potential uses for acoustic monitoring of wild populations.