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The optical signal from a dual-beam backscatter laser Doppler velocimeter designed for oceanographic usage will be described both theoretically and experimentally. The instrument was constructed to simulate, in the laboratory, the strength and behavior of the optical signal as a function of mass concentration of natural particles in water-a subject of concern in the study of high energy benthic boundary layers. It has been found that with proper design, the predominant mode of signal degradation with increasing particle loading is caused primarily by increased shot-noise due to signal attenuation alone. Secondly, the signal is observed to be in the single-scatterer mode at particle concentrations of up to 5 mg/l. Variations in observed signal-to-noise ratio will be described and compared with theoretical calculations.