Dataset: Detections from Townsville reefs acoustic receiver array for marine animal tracking with acoustic tags (NERP TE 6.1, AIMS)


There are 3 datasets:

  1. Acoustic array - this dataset includes a description of the acoustic array deployed on reefs offshore from Townsville. The array was in place from August 2011 to December 2014.
  2. Individuals tagged - this dataset includes a description of the individuals fitted with acoustic transmitters for tracking on an acoustic array deployed on reefs offshore from Townsville.
  3. Detection - this dataset includes detections of individuals fitted with acoustic transmitters. All detection data were collected within the Townsville reefs region, detection data come from individuals captured in the region or individuals that swam into this region from other study sites.


An array of 48 Vemco VR2W acoustic receivers were deployed on 17 reefs offshore from Townsville, Qld to define presence and movement patterns of individuals fitted with acoustic transmitters. The number of receivers deployed per reef varied from 1 to 8. Reefs were selected to represent multiple Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority protection zones.

Transmitters were deployed in 14 species of reef fish and sharks. The number of transmitters deployed varied among species. Individuals were captured and released between August 2011 and July 2014. All individuals were measured, fitted with an external identification tag and an acoustic transmitter. Individuals were released at their site of capture. Transmitter life varied with tag type. Teleosts received V13 tags that lasted 12 months, sharks received V16 tags that lasted 27 months. All transmitters were equipped with depth sensors to indicate the swimming depth of the individual. Transmitters functioned on 69kHz and emitted a coded signal once every 2 minutes. Movement patterns of individuals were tracked on an array of acoustic receivers.

The focus of the research was individuals captured within the Townsville reefs region (Red Throat Emperor, Coral Trout, Reef Sharks, Tiger Sharks, Weasel Sharks), but the equipment also detects individuals captured in other locations that swim into this region. The detection data is inclusive of all individuals detected in this region.

The receivers are fitted with new batteries once a year and are all still functional (Nov 2014).
Data are downloaded twice per year with receivers lifted to the surface for a few minutes while the data are offloaded, batteries changed (when required) and then returned to their mooring.

When large numbers of individuals or high environmental noise are present false detections can occur. Therefore the raw data may include detections of animals that are not authentic. All single detections need to be considered carefully prior to use for broad ranging conclusions.
Detection data are limited by the range of each receiver, transmitter type and behaviour of individual fish.

The detection range of each receiver in the array is approximately 400 - 900 m depending on environmental conditions such as wind and the tag transmitter power.


Acoustic array:
Townsville Reef Receivers.CSV file (3 kb)

Data Dictionary:

Individuals tagged:
fish data_all.CSV file (53 kb)

Data Dictionary:

Latitude and longitude in WSG84 projection


The detection data is available in two formats; a CSV file, Detection.CSV (427,938 kB), and the AATAMS database. The AATAMS database is the official repository and the place were new data will be made available first.

The AATAMS database contains raw data files in a proprietary format (.vrl files). The database is fully searchable and provides the ability to export relevant data as csv files. The detection.CSV file is such an extract run 10-Dec-2015.

The fields exported in detection.CSV are:
Timestamp; station name; latitude; longitude; receiver id; tag ID; species; uploader; transmitter ID; organisation; sensor value; sensor unit.

Data Location:

This dataset is filed in the eAtlas enduring data repository at: data\NERP-TE\6.1_Mobile-predators

General Information