Schools of Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) can exhibit highly organized spatial structure within the school. This structure was quantified for dome shaped schools using both aerial imagery collected from a commercial spotter plane and 400 kHz multibeam echo sounder data collected on a fishing vessel in 2009 in Cape Cod Bay, MA. Observations from one school, containing an estimated 263 fish within an approximately ellipsoidal volume of 1900 m3, were used to seed an acoustic model that estimated the school target strength at frequencies between 10 and 2000 Hz. The fish's swimbladder resonance was estimated to occur at approximately 50 Hz. The acoustic model examined single and multiple scattering solutions and also a completely incoherent summation of scattering responses from the fish. Three levels of structure within the school were examined, starting with fish locations that were constrained by the school boundaries but placed according to a Poisson process, then incorporating a constraint on the distance to the nearest neighbor, and finally adding a constraint on the bearing to the nearest neighbor. Results suggest that both multiple scattering and spatial organization within the school should be considered when estimating the target strength of schools similar to the ones considered here.


Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping

Publication Date


Journal or Conference Title

Journal of the Acoustical Society of America


133, Issue 6




Acoustical Society of America

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Document Type

Journal Article