Detecting the Presence of Sperm Whales' Echolocation Clicks in Noisy Environments

Guy Gubnitky, Roee Diamant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sperm whales (<italic>Physeter macrocephalus</italic>) navigate underwater with a series of impulsive, click-like sounds known as echolocation clicks. These clicks are characterized by a multipulse structure (MPS) that serves as a distinctive pattern. In this work, we use the stability of the MPS as a detection metric for recognizing and classifying the presence of clicks in noisy environments. To distinguish between noise transients and to handle simultaneous emissions from multiple sperm whales, our approach clusters a time series of MPS measures while removing potential clicks that do not fulfil the limits of inter-click interval, duration and spectrum. As a result, our approach can handle high noise transients and low signal-to-noise ratio. The performance of our detection approach is examined using three datasets: seven months of recordings from the Mediterranean Sea containing manually verified ambient noise; several days of manually labelled data collected from the Dominica Island containing approximately 40,000 clicks from multiple sperm whales; and a dataset from the Bahamas containing 1,203 labelled clicks from a single sperm whale. Comparing with the results of two benchmark detectors, a better trade-off between precision and recall is observed as well as a significant reduction in false detection rates, especially in noisy environments. R1C1a To ensure reproducibility, we provide our database of labelled clicks along with our implementation code.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE/ACM Transactions on Audio Speech and Language Processing
StateAccepted/In press - 2024


  • Detectors
  • Feature extraction
  • Inter-click interval (ICI)
  • Inter-pulse interval (IPI)
  • Noise measurement
  • Recording
  • Signal to noise ratio
  • Sperm whale clicks
  • Transient analysis
  • Whales
  • passive acoustic monitoring (PAM)
  • real-time detection

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics
  • Computational Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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