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Mar Environ Res. 2015 May;106:68-81. doi: 10.1016/j.marenvres.2015.02.005. Epub 2015 Feb 24.

How effectively do horizontal and vertical response strategies of long-finned pilot whales reduce sound exposure from naval sonar?

Author information

1
Sea Mammal Research Unit, Scottish Oceans Institute, University of St Andrews, St Andrews, Fife KY16 8LB, United Kingdom; Acoustics & Sonar Research Group, Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO), PO Box 96864, The Hague, 2509 JG, The Netherlands. Electronic address: pw234@st-andrews.ac.uk.
2
Acoustics & Sonar Research Group, Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO), PO Box 96864, The Hague, 2509 JG, The Netherlands.
3
Maritime Systems, Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (FFI), NO-3191, Horten, Norway.
4
Sea Mammal Research Unit, Scottish Oceans Institute, University of St Andrews, St Andrews, Fife KY16 8LB, United Kingdom.

Abstract

The behaviour of a marine mammal near a noise source can modulate the sound exposure it receives. We demonstrate that two long-finned pilot whales both surfaced in synchrony with consecutive arrivals of multiple sonar pulses. We then assess the effect of surfacing and other behavioural response strategies on the received cumulative sound exposure levels and maximum sound pressure levels (SPLs) by modelling realistic spatiotemporal interactions of a pilot whale with an approaching source. Under the propagation conditions of our model, some response strategies observed in the wild were effective in reducing received levels (e.g. movement perpendicular to the source's line of approach), but others were not (e.g. switching from deep to shallow diving; synchronous surfacing after maximum SPLs). Our study exemplifies how simulations of source-whale interactions guided by detailed observational data can improve our understanding about motivations behind behaviour responses observed in the wild (e.g., reducing sound exposure, prey movement).

KEYWORDS:

Behaviour; Cetaceans; Disturbance; Environmental impact; Individual-based models; Noise; Risk assessment; Sonar

PMID:
25795075
DOI:
10.1016/j.marenvres.2015.02.005
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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