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J Acoust Soc Am. 1999 Aug;106(2):1142-8.

Underwater temporary threshold shift induced by octave-band noise in three species of pinniped.

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  • 1Long Marine Laboratory, University of California, Santa Cruz 95060, USA.


Pure-tone sound detection thresholds were obtained in water for one harbor seal (Phoca vitulina), two California sea lions (Zalophus californianus), and one northern elephant seal (Mirounga angustirostris) before and immediately following exposure to octave-band noise. Additional thresholds were obtained following a 24-h recovery period. Test frequencies ranged from 100 Hz to 2000 Hz and octave-band exposure levels were approximately 60-75 dB SL (sensation level at center frequency). Each subject was trained to dive into a noise field and remain stationed underwater during a noise-exposure period that lasted a total of 20-22 min. Following exposure, three of the subjects showed threshold shifts averaging 4.8 dB (Phoca), 4.9 dB (Zalophus), and 4.6 dB (Mirounga). Recovery to baseline threshold levels was observed in test sessions conducted within 24 h of noise exposure. Control sessions in which the subjects completed a simulated noise exposure produced shifts that were significantly smaller than those observed following noise exposure. These results indicate that noise of moderate intensity and duration is sufficient to induce TTS under water in these pinniped species.

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