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J Acoust Soc Am. 2000 Sep;108(3 Pt 1):1332-40.

Zones of impact around icebreakers affecting beluga whales in the Beaufort Sea.

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  • 1Institute of Ocean Sciences, Sidney, British Columbia, Canada.


A software model estimating zones of impact on marine mammals around man-made noise [C. Erbe and D. M. Farmer, J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 108, 1327-1331 (2000)] is applied to the case of icebreakers affecting beluga whales in the Beaufort Sea. Two types of noise emitted by the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Henry Larsen are analyzed: bubbler system noise and propeller cavitation noise. Effects on beluga whales are modeled both in a deep-water environment and a near-shore environment. The model estimates that the Henry Larsen is audible to beluga whales over ranges of 35-78 km, depending on location. The zone of behavioral disturbance is only slightly smaller. Masking of beluga communication signals is predicted within 14-71-km range. Temporary hearing damage can occur if a beluga stays within 1-4 km of the Henry Larsen for at least 20 min. Bubbler noise impacts over the short ranges quoted; propeller cavitation noise accounts for all the long-range effects. Serious problems can arise in heavily industrialized areas where animals are exposed to ongoing noise and where anthropogenic noise from a variety of sources adds up.

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