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Defence science prize for marine acoustics expert

4 December 2012
Media Release
A photo of Chief Defence Scientist, Dr Alex Zelinsky, award recipient, Dr Doug Cato and Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, Mr Warren Snowdon.
Chief Defence Scientist, Dr Alex Zelinsky, award recipient, Dr Doug Cato and Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, Mr Warren Snowdon

Minister for Defence Science and Personnel Warren Snowdon today presented the award to Dr Doug Cato of the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) for his extensive research achievements in underwater acoustics and the effect of sound on marine mammals.

“Dr Cato’s achievements span the oceans - they contribute to the efficient operation of our Navy and help safeguard the wellbeing of the marine environment,” Mr Snowdon said.

“His research in marine bioacoustics and animal communication provided baseline knowledge of sonar effects on marine life, supported defence operations, and informed acquisition projects.”

Marine Environment

Dr Cato’s expert advice about the effect of noise on the ocean environment has enabled Navy to continue vital training activities without any major impact on marine mammals.

“The Royal Australian Navy’s acoustic disturbance mitigation strategies are recognised as among the world’s best. They have drawn on Dr Cato’s research and have been accepted by NATO naval forces as a basis for the development of NATO-standard management strategies,” Mr Snowdon said.

Dr Cato was the lead scientist of a project to determine beaked whale distributions in the ‘Talisman Sabre’ naval exercise areas using underwater acoustic surveying techniques in a Marine environment. The project has developed habitat preference models to predict whale distributions in other exercise areas.

His characterisation of ambient sea noise in the Australian Indo-Pacific region, known as ‘Cato Curves’, has been used to determine sonar performance for more than 30 years, and informed the acquisition of the Integrated Sonar Suite for the Air Warfare Destroyer Program.

“The performance of sonar systems relies on accurate readings of the acoustic environment in which they operate. Dr Cato’s expertise continues to prove invaluable to the efficient and safe operation of Royal Australian Navy vessels,” Mr Snowdon said.

The Minister’s Achievement Award has been presented annually since 1988 to a DSTO scientist who has made an outstanding scientific contribution to enhance Defence effectiveness and efficiency.



Media contacts:

  • Marcus Butler (Mr Snowdon) - (02) 6277 7820 or 0417 917 796
  • Jimmy Hafesjee (DSTO) - (02) 6128 6376 or 0404 042 457
  • Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999