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In this paper the problem of contour extraction in sonar images is addressed. We talk in this context about naval mines placed on the seafloor which are still a vast restraint in civil and military shipping. This potential risk is typically encountered by advanced sonar signal processing techniques and a huge amount of human interactions. To reduce at least the human interactions an automatic procedure is desired. Therefore we introduce a novel automatic target extraction algorithm based on active contours employing a specific shadow locating energy motivated by our experiments. Additionally we use a K-means based thresholding process and a Kolmogorov Smirnov (KS) test for improving the initial guess and therefore optimizing the overall performance.