Acoustic Telemetry

What is Acoustic Telemetry?

Acoustic Telemetry uses a large network of strategically located acoustic receivers in waters around Australia to detect and track tagged animals. This network typically consists of two main types of deployments, large cross shelf arrays or curtains and clustered arrays around local areas such as reefs, headlands, and estuaries. Historically, the ability to track the movements of animals has primarily relied upon the recapture and reporting of tagged individuals at both small and large scales. The use of a network of acoustic receivers that allow the detection of tagged animals in near real-time provides a powerful tool for observing animal movements in Australian coastal and continental shelf ecosystems.

Acoustic Telemetry makes it possible for animals to be monitored over scales of 100s of metres to 100s of Kilometres, informing habitat use, home range size, effectiveness of marine protected areas, refinement of stock assessment and migratory patterns. Additionally, the creation and continuation of the Animal Tracking Database provides a central repository of acoustic tag detections and metadata from Australia, increasing collaboration of acoustic telemetry researchers and institutes and increased access to animal movement data.

Key Data Streams

The IMOS national receiver network consists of 14 arrays deployed in collaboration with several partner organisations. Arrays locations are strategically chosen by the Animal Tracking Facility’s Scientific Committee to optimise the national research infrastructure, benefiting the Australian acoustic telemetry community. Arrays are typically serviced on an annual basis. All project locations can be exported as kmz files from the Animal Tracking Database and imported into Google Earth.

Current Array locations include:

  • New South Wales: Coffs Harbour, Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve, Sydney Gate, Bondi and Narooma.

  • Tasmania: Maria Island

  • South Australia: Glenelg

  • Great Barrier Reef: Heron Island, One Tree Island and Orpheus Island

  • Southern Queensland: North Stradbroke Island

  • Western Australia: Pert and Ningaloo Reef

  • Victoria: Portland

The Animal Tracking Facility has a number of Vemco VR2W acoustic receivers available for loan for a period of up to 12 months. These units are made available to help establish studies in new regions and allow researchers to collect preliminary data that can be used to form the basis of funding applications to establish more permanent acoustic receiver arrays. Applications must follow IMOS guidelines and principles and as such are restricted to marine areas (thus excluding estuary and enclosed bay regions).

Application Forms
Data Uses and Requirements

Rob Harcourt


Acknowledging IMOS 

Users of IMOS data are required to clearly acknowledge the source material by including the following statement:

Australia’s Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS) is enabled by the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS). It is operated by a consortium of institutions as an unincorporated joint venture, with the University of Tasmania as Lead Agent.