Soundscape of green turtle foraging habitats in Fiji, South Pacific
The soundscape features of the marine environment provide crucial information about ecosystem health for many species, and they are defined by the local biological, geophysical, and anthropogenic components. In this study, we investigated the soundscape at green turtle neritic foraging habitats in Fiji, South Pacific, with the aims of characterizing the contribution of each component and of comparing the levels of acoustic pressure among sites with different abundances of sea turtles. Four sites were selected at two islands, and one hydrophone was deployed at each site. Generalized additive models highlighted that sound pressure levels (SPLs) at low frequencies (125–250 Hz) were especially affected by wind conditions, while at higher frequencies (>250 Hz) SPLs were mostly influenced by fish and crustacean acoustic activity. Higher abundances of green turtles were found at sites with the highest levels of SPLs and the highest number of acoustic emissions by fishes and crustaceans but were not related to maximum seagrass and macroalgae coverage, or the highest number of fish. The selected coastal habitats have negligible anthropogenic noise, thus this study informs physiological and behavioral studies of the acoustic signatures that sea turtles might target and provides a baseline against which potential impact of soundscape changes on sea turtle spatial abundance and distribution can be evaluated.