Automatic classification of humpback whale social calls

Published in The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 2017

Recommended citation: Tolkova, Irina, Lisa Bauer, Antonella Wilby, Ryan Kastner, and Kerri Seger. "Automatic classification of humpback whale social calls." The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 141, no. 5 (2017): 3605-3605.

Note: this is an abstract within the ASA proceedings, to accompany an oral presentation; not a full article. This is a result of my 2016 REU project.

Abstract: Acoustic methods are an established technique to monitor marine mammal populations and behavior, but developments in computer science can expand the current capabilities. A central aim of these methods is the automated detection and classification of marine mammal vocalizations. While many studies have applied bioacoustic methods to cetacean calls, there has been limited success with humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) social call classification, which has largely remained a manual task in the bioacoustics community. In this project, we automated this process by analyzing spectrograms of calls using PCA-based and connected-component-based methods, and derived features from relative power in the frequency bins of these spectrograms. These features were used to train and test a supervised Hidden Markov Model (HMM) algorithm to investigate classification feasibility. We varied the number of features used in this analysis by varying the sizes of frequency bins. Generally, we saw an increase in precision, recall, and accuracy for all three classified groups, across the individual data sets, as the number of features decreased. We will present the classification rates of our algorithm across multiple model parameters. Since this method is not specific to humpback whale vocalizations, we hope it will prove useful in other acoustic applications.