Laboratory investigation of the acoustic response of seagrass tissue in the frequency band 0.5-2.5 kHz.

Abstract

Previous in situ investigations of seagrass have revealed acoustic phenomena that depend on plant density, tissue gas content, and free bubbles produced by photosynthetic activity, but corresponding predictive models that could be used to optimize acoustic remote sensing, shallow water sonar, and mine hunting applications have not appeared. To begin to address this deficiency, low frequency (0.5-2.5 kHz) acoustic laboratory experiments were conducted on three freshly collected Texas Gulf Coast seagrass species. A one-dimensional acoustic resonator technique was used to assess the biomass and effective acoustic properties of the leaves and rhizomes of Thalassia testudinum (turtle grass), Syringodium filiforme (manatee grass), and Halodule wrightii (shoal grass). Independent biomass and gas content estimates were obtained via microscopic cross-section imagery. The acoustic results were compared to model predictions based on Wood's equation for a two-phase medium. The effective sound speed in the plant-filled resonator was strongly dependent on plant biomass, but the Wood's equation model (based on tissue gas content alone) could not predict the effective sound speed for the low irradiance conditions of the experiment, in which no free bubbles were generated by photosynthesis. The results corroborate previously published results obtained in situ for another seagrass species, Posidonia oceanica.

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