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J Acoust Soc Am. 2000 Sep;108(3 Pt 1):1322-6.

Masking in three pinnipeds: underwater, low-frequency critical ratios.

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


Behavioral techniques were used to determine underwater masked hearing thresholds for a northern elephant seal (Mirounga angustirostris), a harbor seal (Phoca vitulina), and a California sea lion (Zalophus californianus). Octave-band white noise maskers were centered at five test frequencies ranging from 200 to 2500 Hz; a slightly wider noise band was used for testing at 100 Hz. Critical ratios were calculated at one masking noise level for each test frequency. Above 200 Hz, critical ratios increased with frequency. This pattern is similar to that observed in most animals tested, and indicates that these pinnipeds lack specializations for detecting low-frequency tonal sounds in noise. However, the individual pinnipeds in this study, particularly the northern elephant seal, detected signals at relatively low signal-to-noise ratios. These results provide a means of estimating zones of auditory masking for pinnipeds exposed to anthropogenic noise sources.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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