Prof. Douglas Cato

    The “Cato Curves”, used extensively for predicting sonar performance for over 30 years, is named after Prof. Cato.  Prof Cato is an expert in marine acoustic.  Although having retried from DST as a Principal Scientist in the Marine Environment Division of DST, as an Adjunct Professor in the School of Geosciences at the University of Sydney and the University of Sydney Institute of Marine Science, Prof Cato remains actively involved in marine acoustic research such as research into the impacts of anthropic noise on whales.  He has more than forty years of experience in research in sonar performance particularly the way it is affected by ocean acoustics and is best known for his achievements in understanding the ambient sounds of the ocean.  He is also a Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America.

    His current research interests include

    • Assessment the impacts of sonars on marine mammals using the most recent research (including our own) aimed at updating the environmental management procedures of Defence maritime activities
    • Assessing the impacts of explosions on humans and marine mammals to establish safe ranges for Defence maritime activities
    • Feasibility study for the project “Automating the detection of whales at sea”
    • Assessment of safe ranges for divers from acoustic communication systems

    Awards and Qualifications

    • Minister’s Achievement Award in Defence Science
    • Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America (elected 1991)
    • Member of the Society for Marine Mammalogy, the Australian Acoustical Society, and Australian Marine Sciences Associatio.
    • Director, University of Sydney Institute of Marine Science (USIMS), 2006 – 2010
    • Alternate member for DST, National Marine Science Committee (advises Australian Government) 2003 – 2015
    • Board member, International Commission on Acoustics (2004 – 2007)
    • Board member, Australian Marine Mammal Research Centre (Taronga Zoo and University of Sydney) to 2011

    Career History

    • Honorary Fellow (on retirement as Principal Scientist, Marine Environment), Maritime Division, Defence Science and Technology Group (DST)
    • Adjunct Professor, School of Geosciences and the Marine Studies Institute, University of Sydney
    • Chief scientist (former) of the Behavioural Response of the Australian Humpback whales to Seismic Surveys Program
    • Principal Research Scientist, Marine Environment, 2009-2015, DST
    • Senior Research Scientist, 1988-1991, DST
    • Experimental Officer, 1973-1987, Royal Australian Navy Research Laboratory
    “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. His research in marine bioacoustics and animal communication provided baseline knowledge of sonar effects on marine life, supported defence operations, and informed acquisition projects. Dr Cato’s expert advice about the effect of noise on the ocean environment has enabled the Navy to continue vital training activities without any major impact on marine mammals.” - Minister Snowden
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