Kylie the dolphin & the Clyde Porpoises have made it all the way to Melbourne!

Posted Posted in Science

In the podcast¬†below you can listen to Mel Cosentino’s journey from Patagonia to Glasgow and how volunteering opportunities mixed with a lot of dedication has brought her to Scotland to collaborate on our Clyde Porpoise project ūüôā

Mel is studying for a PhD at the Centre for Ultrasonic Engineering based at Strathclyde University.  She is using the data you have helped to collect on the Clyde to make discoveries that are completely new to science.

Listen to Mel explain some of the acoustic science behind our discoveries and how Kylie the dolphin and porpoises are modifying their vocalisations to communicate with each other. As far as we know this has never been recorded in the wild and very exciting news. It is testament to the unique and precious marine environment we have in the Clyde.

She also talks about the new ‘Jeiro Award’ that honours a conservationist she once knew. Jerio was murdered because of his conservation work and the new award will help bring attention to the hundreds of conservationists that are killed around our world every year. ¬†We will be helping Mel with this award as plans are progressed and will keep everyone updated.

A big thanks to 3RRR Community Radio in Melbourne and the hosts of the ‘Einstein a Go Go’ program.

You can listen to Mels section from 16:34 but whole program is a cracker and hope you will be tuning in to their shows in the future ūüôā

Dr J.A. Gibson 1976, The Marine Mammals of the Clyde Faunal Area

Posted Posted in Science, Science Library

A fantastic paper published in the Western Naturalist in 1976 by Scottish naturalist Dr J.A. Gibson. It gives the reader an idea of what species were once common in the Clyde and includes older references to sea monsters and even the Walrus spotted in Ettrick Bay on Bute. Blue whales, Beluga, Sperm whales… they are all in there and even has a reference to the albino porpoise shot off Millport in 1834. It is an amazing read and credit to Dr J.A. Gibson’s ¬†dedicated work sorting through old statistical, fisheries and newspaper records.

Gibson 1976

NAC Provost’s Civic Pride Awards 2018

Posted Posted in Uncategorized

Clyde Porpoise is pleased, honoured and humbled to be shortlisted for the Provosts Civic Pride Awards 2018.

As a ‘new’ group in North Ayrshire we are still finding our feet but are fully committed to the objectives of our project and focussed on achieving benefits for participants, the wider community and our precious coastal & marine environments.

Our project is engaged with surveying the Clyde and surrounding seas to determine the conservation status of resident and visiting marine mammals. We provide volunteering opportunities to individuals and groups that are interested in contributing to grassroots citizen-science and environmental projects. We are pleased to announce that we are progressing and developing plans for a community-based marine ranger service and marine mammal visitor centre on Cumbrae. Make sure you give us a visit when we get our new centre open….. and get involved ūüôā

As a new project our activities are restricted by limited funding but have now acquired some track record and hoping that nomination for the Provosts Civic Pride Awards will provide additional traction to help realise our aims and objectives.

Please help us gain some traction by voting for us in Provosts Civic Pride Awards

  • Citizens around the Clyde coastline have contributed 580 marine mammal sightings reports. Over 300 people in this coastal network have recorded 1,700 individual cetacean around their shoreline.
  • The survey boat has been to sea for 110 days on marine survey, including 78 days passive acoustic monitoring for cetaceans and recording underwater noise pollution.
  • 3,500 volunteer hours have been contributed by over 200 participants who have sailed in excess of 8,000km during marine surveys and other activities.
  • We continue to assist universities with field courses and supply data to undergraduate students.
  • Three of our trainee skippers have accrued over 1,000 sea miles towards RYA/MCA Yachtmaster qualification.
  • We provide sail taster and orientation trips to community, family, excluded and refugee groups
  • The project continues to support Scottish coastal communities in environmental and other campaigns.
  • We deliver community talks and presentations:
    • Scottish Wildlife Trust Ayrshire
    • Fairlie Community Council
    • Royal West of Scotland Amateur Boat Club
    • Arran Natural History Society x2
    • Garnock Canoe Club
    • Scottish Wildlife Trust – Dumfries
    • Greenock Philosophical Society
    • Marine Seminars – FSC Millport
    • STEM Week North Ayrshire Council Schools
  • We have formed collaborative research partnerships, facilitate and fund field data collection for studentships:
    • University of Strathclyde Centre for Ultrasonic Engineering Bioacoustics (PhD – New Click Train Detector to study the ecology and acoustic behaviour of harbour porpoises)
    • St Andrews University Sea Mammal Research Unit (MSc – Fine Scale Distribution of Harbour Porpoise and Conservation Status in the upper Clyde)
    • Heriot Watt University¬†(BSc – Distribution & Abundance of Harbour Porpoise in South Arran MPA)
  • We collaborate in the¬†INTEREG Compass EU MPA Bioacoustics Monitoring program and MEDIN (Marine Environmental Data & Information Network).
  • We continually represent our community and Clyde environmental interests at conferences and workshops:
    • MASTS Scotland Conference
    • Review of the Scottish National Marine Plan Workshop
    • Clyde Marine Litter Symposium
    • Sea Scotland Conference 2016 & 2017
    • Marine Tourism Workshop
    • Porcupine Marine Natural History Society
    • Irish Sea Maritime Forum
    • Scottish Marine Animal Stranding’s Scheme Conference
    • INTERG Compass EU MPA Bioacoustics Monitoring program
    • Clyde Marine Planning Partnership Clyde Assessment Workshops etc.
  • The project is engaged with the marine planning framework and present our data to planning, regulatory bodies and respond to consultations on various issues that effect our marine environment:
    • Coastal development
    • European Protected Species
    • Sustainable marine tourism
    • Runoff, pollution and water quality
    • High Impact events
    • Aquaculture
    • Marine dumping and disposal
    • Flood defences
    • MPA‚Äôs, SAC‚Äôs, MCA‚Äôs, SSSI‚Äôs and priority features

Please help us gain some traction by voting for us in Provosts Civic Pride Awards

The Towed Hydrophone Array

Posted Posted in Methodology, Technology


Our 40 foot research yacht on the pontoon at Lochranza.

Towed hydrophone arrays are used by researchers in many parts of the world  and operate from a wide variety of platforms, from small sailing boats  to large oceanographic research vessels. The hydrophone system that we use is  identical to those used during  surveys of offshore renewables sites, including tidal sites in Orkney and Northern Ireland.  Our hydrophone systems is essentially identical to the one used by the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust, the University of Newcastle and the Fisheries and Aquatic Ecosystems section of the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute in Northern Ireland. The Welsh and Scottish Governments originally funded and have been instrumental in the development of new Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) methodologies for surveying tidal areas.


Towed hydrophone array coiled on deck of survey vessel

The standard towed array used for small cetacean survey consists of, in essence, two high frequency hydrophones with filtering preamplifiers and a depth sensor towed on a long strengthened cable. Hydrophones of this type were used on previous SCANS surveys  and have been widely used for monitoring at renewable energy sites. The hydrophones and depth sensors are mounted in a streamlined oil-filled polyurethane tube steamer section. An oil filled tube is the standard solution of constructing a streamlined sensor sections adopted for both Naval and Seismic arrays. It also facilitates straight forward servicing and repair and the replacement or repositioning of sensors within the array if required at a later date. A stereo pair of hydrophones allows bearings to vocalising animals to be calculated from time of arrival difference using a real time data collection and analysis program such as Pamguard.  Using target motion analysis, Pamguard can localise harbour porpoises (and other cetaceans) from bearing patterns as a stereo hydrophone array is towed past them during surveys, and this provides data for the calculation of detection functions allowing quantitative survey analysis using Distance software.

Topside Equipment

The equipment is easily transferable between vessels. Here it is temporarily set-up on the Manx Whale & Dolphin Watch research boat for a demonstration survey around the Calf of Man. (note the hobnobs which are vital!)

Providing an adequate ‘clean’ power supply for PAM systems running on small sailing vessels is always a challenge. The boat‚Äôs 12v supply often has limited capacity and is made ‘electrically’ noisy by other equipment on the vessel. The engines, in particular the alternators, are typically a strong source of electrical noise and on plastic boats engine rooms are not well shielded. There is occasions (demonstrating equipment on other vessels etc)¬†when we¬†move the equipment between ¬†vessels and requires minimum time spent setting up survey gear.

We have a customised system that has very low power requirements, is small and self contained and for which all components, including the computer, run off 12v DC. Where electrical noise and independence are issues then the system is able to run off a large leisure battery for hours to days (estimated current consumption is 1.5 amps).  In other situations an external  AC power clean 12V supply can be used.

Signal conditioning and digitisation is provided by a St Andrews Instrumentation Ltd DAQ card. This is mounted, along with power management, GPS, USB Hub and Measurement Computing DAQ for depth readout in a customised waterproof Pelican Case. Adjustable gain and signal conditioning for aural monitoring is provided by a small commercially available  Behringer Yenyx 502 mixer.

Data is analysed and captured using Pamguard software running on a 12v NUC computer. To reduce interference noise the Pamguard data is displayed on the vessels monitor using a WiDi connection and raw .wav files stored on a high volume hard drive for analysis back at the lab.

Compatibility with Software

Pamguard screenshot showing porpoise detections at the Calf of Man.

This hardware system is designed to be 100% compatible with Pamguard, the industry standard open source freeware for acoustic monitoring.  These hydrophones can also be used with other software application including the International Fund for  Animal Welfare suite. We are then able to use Distance   software or MATLAB to analyse the data sets and reach scientifically robust conclusions.

Towed Hydrophone Acoustic Channels 2 x Medium Frequency units and 2 x High Frequency Magrec HP03 units, comprising a spherical ceramic and HP02 preamp. Preap low cut filter set by default 2kHz

Near flat sensitivity 2kHz- 150kHz

Depth Sensor Keller 4-20Ma 50m range

Sensed by Measurement Computing LS1028

Fully compatible with Pamguard

Streamlined housing 5m, 3 cm diameter polyurethane tube. Filled with Isopar M hydrophone oil.
Cable 100m multiple screened twisted pair, with strain relief and Kellum’s grip towing eye,

Length may vary to suit application

Connectors 19 pin Ceep IP68 waterproof
Sail DAQ –¬†Topside Amplifier Filter ¬†Unit Supply Voltage 11.8-20 V DC
Supply current ~200mA at 12 V
Input Balanced input
Gain 0,6,12,24,30 dB
High Pass Filter -Butterworth


Anti Aliasing Filter 200kHz
Computer Intel¬ģ CORE(‚ĄĘ) I5-6260U CPU @ 1.80GHZ / Windows 10
Software Pamguard 



Chappell, O., R. Leaper, and J. Gordon. 1996. Development and performance of an automated harbour porpoise click detector. Reports of the International Whaling Commission. 46:587-594.

Gillespie, D. 1997. An acoustic survey for sperm whales in the southern ocean sanctuary conducted from RSV Aurora Australis. Report of the International Whaling Commission. 47:897-906.

Gillespie, D., J. Gordon, R. McHugh, D. Mclaren, D.K. Mellinger, P. Redmond, A. Thode, P. Trinder, and D. X.Y. 2008. Pamguard: semiautomated, open source software for real-time acoustic detection and localisation of cetaceans. Proceedings of the Institute of Acoustics. 30.

Gordon, J., D. Thompson, R. Leaper, D. Gillespie, C. Pierpoint, S. Calderan, J. Macauley, and T. Gordon. 2011. Assessment of Risk to Marine Mammals from Underwater Marine Renewable Devices in Welsh Waters. Phase 2 – Studies of Marine Mammals in Welsh Highly Tidal Waters. On Behalf of the Welsh Assembly Government. Doc. Ref. JER3688R100707JG. EcologicUK. 126.

Hammond, P., and K. Macleod. 2003. SCANS II – estimating cetacean abundance in European Atlantic waters. Paper SC/55/SM22 presented to the Scientific Committee of International Whaling Commission.:5pp.

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Leaper, R., and J. Gordon. 2012. Marine Mammal Acoustic and Visual Surveys РAnalysis of Neart Na Gaoithe data. Appendix 13.5   Neart Na Gaoithe Environmental Statement. Mainstream Renewables. 20pp.

MeyGen. 2011. MeyGen Tidal Energy Project Phase 1. Environmental Statement. Chapter 11 Marine Mammals. 41.

SmartWind. 2012. Hornsea Offshore Wind Farm, Project One, Preliminary Environmental Information Report. Volume 2 ‚Äď Offshore. Chapter 5: Marine Mammals. E. Ltd, editor. 96.

Swift, R., S. Rankin, T. Gerrodette, B. Taylor, D. Gillespie, J. Gordon, L. Rojas-Bracho, and A. Jaramillo-Legorreta. 2011. Towed hydrophone surveys for monitoring trends in the abundance and distribution of the critically endangered Gulf of California porpoise, Vaquita. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. 130:2420.