Università degli Studi di Pavia

Centro Interdisciplinare di Bioacustica e Ricerche Ambientali

Via Taramelli 24 - 27100 Pavia - Italy
e-mail : cibra@unipv.it


SOLMAR (the acronym for Sound, Oceanography and Living MArine Resources) is an international interdisciplinary program that addresses the issue of underwater noise and its effects on the marine environment. SOLMAR is sponsored and developed by the NATO Undersea Research Center based in La Spezia, Italy (formerly Saclant URC). The SOLMAR website shows a great amount of information about the project.

The project includes the development of a set of comprehensive databases of oceanography, ecosystem dynamics and living marine resources in the Mediterranean Sea to support the development of models for predicting the presence (or absence) of marine mammals according to season and environmental parameters.

CIBRA cooperates in the development of databases, the classification of marine mammal sounds, and in the development and testing of Dual Uses of ASW instruments and software. The Italian Navy provides a strong support to the project, for example by providing patrolling aircrafts, helicopters and the oceanographic R/V Magnaghi. This kind of cooperation is the ideal continuation of the joint projects set in 1995 and of the convention signed among the Navy and the University of Pavia in 1998.

The CIBRA participation to SOLMAR began in 1999 and it was supported till 2004 by ONR Grants N00014-99-1-0709, N00014-02-1-0333, and N00014-03-1-0901 for the project "Bioacoustic Characterization of the Mediterranean Sea".


Relevant information on cetaceans stranded or beached along the Italian coasts has been published on a yearly basis by the Centro Studi Cetacei (CSC) since 1986. This data base established the basis for the concept development of the zoological portion of the SOLMAR database. The data published by CSC for the period 1986-2004 and other earlier unpublished data have been digitized, georefernced and transferred to a GIS (Geographical Information System) for data retrieval, mapping and analysis. ESRI ArcView 8, a widely used software available on different computing platforms was chosen for the baseline application.
Subsequent SOLMAR data base development will incorporate data about cetaceans and marine biology in the entire Mediterranean Sea. This will include zoological (strandings, sightings, acoustic detections, behavioral studies), and biological (productivity, biodiversity) information coupled with geophysical, oceanographic and climatological geo-referenced data sets. Pictures (photographic documentation, including photo-id, remote sensing images, etc.), videos and audio files with acoustic signatures of species will be included when available.
The SOLMAR databases will provide a multinational, multidisciplinary open information system for the entire Mediterranean Sea.
Ultimately, the databases will provide a tool for evaluating the impact of human activities, for coordinating research efforts, and for setting up and tuning conservation strategies.
The final goal is to make the database and other tools easily and freely accessible by everyone through the web.
All the information stored in the databases will include references to the data sources and to the organizations or researchers responsible for the data collection and processing. This will allow dissemination of relevant information and to facilitate contacts and cooperation among all the researchers.

Marine Mammals bioacoustics and SIRENA cruises

Other than in the database design and management, CIBRA is particularly involved in the study of marine mammals vocalizations and in the development and testing of methodologies for their detection and classification by means of passive acoustics. CIBRA received funding form ONR for the project "Bioacoustic Characterization of the Mediterranean Sea" and participates to NURC cruises on board of the R/V Alliance, a special research vessel designed for acoustic research. It is a straordinarily quiet ship, very stable and equipped with sophisticated instruments for sound detection and analysis. An ideal platform for studying the sounds emitted by marine mammals and for carrying out acoustic and visual surveys. So far, research cruises have been organized in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003. A further research cruise is being planned for summer 2006.

The R/V Alliance

For the SOLMAR Project CIBRA designed and assembled an entire set of instruments that is continuously improved to meet any new research requirement. The CIBRA equipment is designed to serve the needs of marine mammals research and of the implementation of mitigation policies both in the field of sonar use and in the field of seismic surveys.

Arrays and hydrophones used in latest Sirena cruises

The Main Scientific Lab on the NRV Alliance (SIRENA 2001)

CIBRA Home Page

SOLMAR website

Updated July 2005