Compatibility in acoustic telemetry

  • August 30, 2021
  • by Jan Reubens, Kim Aarestrup, Carl Meyer, Andy Moore, Finn Okland and Pedro Afonso


Acoustic telemetry is widely used to investigate aquatic animal movement. Pulse position modulation (PPM) is an acoustic telemetry method that allows multiple unique identification codes to be transmitted at a single acoustic frequency, typically in the 69 kHz range. However, because the potential number of unique identification codes (i.e. tags) is ultimately limited by the number of pulses in the PPM signal, this poses a practical limitation. In addition, different manufacturers have developed different approaches to encoding the transmitted data, hampering compatibility across brands. A lack of broad compatibility across telemetry systems restricts users to a single manufacturer and operating system, reduces market competition and limits innovation. As the aquatic animal tracking research community organises towards networks of devices and data, incompatibility becomes more problematic and jeopardizes the unique scientific benefits offered by the networking approach. Here, we make a plea for collaboration among the manufacturers globally and propose a set of open protocols to ensure equipment interoperability as a medium-term solution.