Echopype: Ocean Acoustics


Wu-Jung Lee, Senior Oceanographer, Applied Physics Laboratory at UW

Emilio Mayorga, Researcher, Applied Physics Laboratory at UW

eScience Institute/SSEC Engineers

Valentina Staneva, Senior Data Scientist

Don Setiawan, Senior Software Engineer

Scientists commonly use active sonar systems to collect data about mid-trophic level animals, such as zooplankton and small fish that play an important role in marine ecosystems. Echosounders, or fish-finders, are high-frequency sonar systems that emit pulses of sound and record the reflections from animals, the seabed, and other objects underwater. These instruments are proven to be more efficient and effective than many other sampling methods (e.g., nets) and thus have been widely adopted by the ocean sciences community, resulting in a massive amount of data.  

However, these datasets can be challenging to analyze and are often under-utilized due to the lack of software tools and infrastructure that can support manipulation and computation of large volumes of ocean sonar data. Popular commercial software solutions are extremely costly, with per-license costs on the order of tens of thousands annually. 

The echopype project was initiated in 2018 with a goal to address this issue by creating and orchestrating open-source software tools into a streamlined data processing workflow. The echopype development team, including the partners and SSEC engineers, leverages modern cloud computing technologies to support efficient computation of large quantities of ocean sonar data in a robust infrastructure that aids in the exploration, monitoring, and management of living marine resources. 

Beyond the adoption of robust computing infrastructure and open-source software best practices, the echopype development team is leveraging echopype as a community building tool, to provide researchers across the globe a platform to collaborate and interact organically through open development.