Program for the automatic acoustic estimation of sperm whale Size distributions

Written by Wilfried Beslin

CABLE 1.0 is now available for download


CABLE (Cachalot Automatic Body Length Estimator) is a program for automatically estimating the size distributions of sperm whales heard clicking in acoustic recordings. It was developed by Wilfried Beslin as part of a Master of Science thesis project at Dalhousie University under the supervision of Hal Whitehead, with the collaboration of Shane Gero and the Dominica Sperm Whale Project:

CABLE was developed using MATLAB version R2015a. It is a standalone application, meaning that MATLAB is not required to run it. The program is available to download for anyone who wants to use it. Please review this page before proceeding to download CABLE.

How it works

Measuring body length acoustically is possible with sperm whales, because their clicks have a unique feature: they are composed of multiple pulses, where the inter-pulse interval (IPI) increases with body size.

CABLE works by measuring IPIs from clicks that display a clear multi-pulsed structure. It recognizes these “Good” clicks by using a machine learning technique called a Support Vector Machine (SVM), followed by additional quality control checks.

The advantage of CABLE’s algorithm is that it is fully automatic, and it enables the estimation of IPIs from multiple sperm whales clicking simultaneously, with no need to resolve individual click trains. CABLE can work with audio recordings that have only one channel.

Requirements and installation

CABLE is a standalone application built for the Windows operating system using MATLAB Compiler and MATLAB version R2015a. It will only work on Windows operating systems (64-bit).

MATLAB itself is not needed to run CABLE. However, unless you happen to have a full installation of MATLAB R2015a and MATLAB Compiler SDK, you will need MATLAB Runtime. MATLAB Runtime is made freely available by The Mathworks, Inc. at:

Before running CABLE, make sure you have downloaded and installed MATLAB Runtime R2015a (8.5).

CABLE itself comes in a "zip" folder and does not require installation. Simply place the program directory anywhere where you have write and execute permissions.


The algorithm used by CABLE is described in:

Beslin, W. A. M., Whitehead, H., and Gero, S. (2018). “Automatic acoustic estimation of sperm whale size distributions achieved through machine recognition of on-axis clicks”. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 144, 3485-3495. doi: 10.1121/1.5082291

Please cite this article if you use CABLE.


Once you have reviewed this page, you may use the links below to view the user manual, download MATLAB Runtime, and download CABLE itself. Remember, CABLE will not work without MATLAB Runtime version R2015a (8.5).

Please review the user manual before using CABLE. The manual is also included in the full CABLE download.

View User Manual

Get MATLAB Runtime

Download CABLE (version 1.0)

Updated by Wilfried Beslin, Jan 2019