Mesopelagic fish of the Myctophidae and Sternoptychidae families dominate the biomass of the oceanic deep scattering layers and, therefore, have important ecological roles within these ecosystems. Interest in the commercial exploitation of these fish is growing, so the development of techniques for estimating their abundance, distribution and, ultimately, sustainable exploitation are essential. The acoustic backscattering characteristics for two size classes of Maurolicus muelleri and Benthosema glaciale are reported here based on swimbladder morphology derived from digitized soft x-ray images, and empirical (in situ) measurements of target strength (TS) derived from an acoustic survey in a Norwegian Sea. A backscattering model based on a gas-filled prolate spheroid was used to predict the theoretical TS for both species across a frequency range between 0 and 250 kHz. Sensitivity analyses of the TS model to the modeling parameters indicate that TS is rather sensitive to the viscosity, swimbladder volume ratio, and tilt, which can result in substantial changes to the TS. Theoretical TS predictions close to the resonance frequency were in good agreement (±2 dB) with mean in situ TS derived from the areas acoustically surveyed that were spatially and temporally consistent with the trawl information for both species.
This project was funded by the research council of Norway (Contract No. 190318/S40). Thanks to the crew of the MRV Haakon Mosby and the technical staff at the Institute of Marine Research, Norway. This work also received funding from the Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland (MASTS) pooling initiative and their support is gratefully acknowledged. MASTS is funded by the Scottish Funding Council (Grant Reference No. HR09011) and contributing institutions. Thanks to Marine Scotland Science for funding the collection of radiograph data. Many thanks to Martin Downing at the Health Science Building of the University of Aberdeen for his help with radiographing the specimens.