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

Guy Gubnitky, Roee Diamant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) 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. To ensure reproducibility, we provide our database of labelled clicks along with our implementation code.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2050-2061
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE/ACM Transactions on Audio Speech and Language Processing
StatePublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 IEEE.


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

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


Dive into the research topics of 'Detecting the Presence of Sperm Whales' Echolocation Clicks in Noisy Environments'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this