Acoustic scattering by benthic and planktonic shelled animals. Academic Article uri icon


  • Acoustic backscattering measurements and associated scattering modeling were recently conducted on a type of benthic shelled animal that has a spiral form of shell (Littorina littorea). Benthic and planktonic shelled animals with this shape occur on the seafloor and in the water column, respectively, and can be a significant source of acoustic scattering in the ocean. Modeling of the scattering properties allows reverberation predictions to be made for sonar performance predictions as well as for detection and classification of animals for biological and ecological applications. The studies involved measurements over the frequency range 24 kHz to 1 MHz and all angles of orientation in as small as 1 degree increments. This substantial data set is quite revealing of the physics of the acoustic scattering by these complex shelled bodies and served as a basis for the modeling. Specifically, the resonance structure of the scattering was strongly dependent upon angle of orientation and could be traced to various types of rays (e.g., subsonic Lamb waves and rays entering the opercular opening). The data are analyzed in both the frequency and time domain (compressed pulse processing) so that dominant scattering mechanisms could be identified. Given the complexity of the animal body (irregular elastic shell with discontinuities), approximate scattering models are used with only the dominant scattering properties retained. Two models are applied to the data, both approximating the body as a deformed sphere: (1) an averaged form of the exact modal-series-based solution for the spherical shell, which is used to estimate the backscattering by a deformed shell averaged over all angles of orientation, and produces reasonably accurate predictions over all k1a(esr) (k1 is the acoustic wave number of the surrounding water and a(esr) is the equivalent spherical radius of the body), and (2) a ray-based formula which is used to estimate the scattering at fixed angle of orientation, but only for high k1a(esr). The ray-based model is an extension of a model recently developed for the shelled zooplankton Limacina retroversa that has a shape similar to that of the Littorina littorea but swims through the water [Stanton et al., J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 103, 236-253 (1998b)]. Applications of remote detection and classification of the seafloor and water column in the presence of shelled animals are discussed.

publication date

  • August 2000