Soundscapes and Acoustics

Ocean Noise Strategy Roadmap

Gedamke J, Harrison J, Hatch L, Angliss R, Barlow J, Berchok C, Caldow C, CASTELLOTE M, Cholewiak D, DeAngelis ML, et al. Ocean Noise Strategy Roadmap. Silver Spring, Maryland: NOAA; 2016. Available from: http://cetsound.noaa.gov/road-map
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Report

Offices across NOAA have collaborated to develop an agency-wide Ocean Noise Strategy, which seeks to ensure that NOAA is more comprehensively addressing noise impacts to aquatic species and their habitat over the next 10 years.  

The Roadmap is intended to serve as a high-level guide, rather than a prescriptive listing of program-level actions. The document summarizes the status of the science to support the Ocean Noise Strategy's goals, details relevant NOAA management and science capacities, and recommends cross-agency actions that could be taken to achieve more comprehensive management of noise impacts.  Fundamentally, the Roadmap serves as an organizing tool to rally the multiple NOAA offices that address ocean noise impacts around a more integrated and comprehensive approach. A series of key goals and recommendations are presented that would enhance NOAA’s ability to manage both species and the places they inhabit in the context of a changing acoustic environment. 

Reef Sound as an Orientation Cue for Shoreward Migration by Pueruli of the Rock Lobster, Jasus edwardsii

Hinojosa IA, Green BS, Gardner C, Hesse J, Stanley JA, Jeffs AG. Reef Sound as an Orientation Cue for Shoreward Migration by Pueruli of the Rock Lobster, Jasus edwardsii. PLOS ONE [Internet]. 2016 ;11(6):e0157862. Available from: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0157862
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

The post-larval or puerulus stage of spiny, or rock, lobsters (Palinuridae) swim many kilometres from open oceans into coastal waters where they subsequently settle. The orientation cues used by the puerulus for this migration are unclear, but are presumed to be critical to finding a place to settle. Understanding this process may help explain the biological processes of dispersal and settlement, and be useful for developing realistic dispersal models. In this study, we examined the use of reef sound as an orientation cue by the puerulus stage of the southern rock lobster, Jasus edwardsii. Experiments were conducted using in situ binary choice chambers together with replayed recording of underwater reef sound. The experiment was conducted in a sandy lagoon under varying wind conditions. A significant proportion of puerulus (69%) swam towards the reef sound in calm wind conditions. However, in windy conditions (>25 m s-1) the orientation behaviour appeared to be less consistent with the inclusion of these results, reducing the overall proportion of pueruli that swam towards the reef sound (59.3%). These results resolve previous speculation that underwater reef sound is used as an orientation cue in the shoreward migration of the puerulus of spiny lobsters, and suggest that sea surface winds may moderate the ability of migrating pueruli to use this cue to locate coastal reef habitat to settle. Underwater sound may increase the chance of successful settlement and survival of this valuable species.

Underwater soundscape of marine protected areas in the south Brazilian coast

Sánchez-Gendriz I, Padovese LR. Underwater soundscape of marine protected areas in the south Brazilian coast. Marine Pollution Bulletin [Internet]. 2016 ;105(1):65 - 72. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0025326X16301114
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

The Laje de Santos Marine State Park (LSMSP) and Xixová-Japuí State Park (XJSP) are two protected areas (PA), close to the Santos Bay in the south Brazilian coast. The region encompasses both important biodiversity and anthropogenic activities. This study aims to serve as a first reference survey of the underwater soundscape of these PAs. Additionally it evaluates the presence of the anthropogenic and biological sound in these areas. One month of continuous recorded underwater sound, at selected locations in XJSP and LSMSP, is used in this study. The data were characterized by its spectral content and by the temporal evolution of Sound Pressure Levels (SPL). Both locations showed sound events with daily periodicities, mainly related with boats and fish chorus.

Underwater soundscapes in near-shore tropical habitats and the effects of environmental degradation and habitat restoration

Butler J, Stanley JA, Butler MJ. Underwater soundscapes in near-shore tropical habitats and the effects of environmental degradation and habitat restoration. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology [Internet]. 2016 ;479:89 - 96. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022098116300429
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Most marine habitats have unique soundscapes and, among other potential ecological consequences, the larvae of many fish and invertebrates use habitat-specific sounds to locate appropriate settlement habitat. Anthropogenic stressors have degraded coastal ecosystems worldwide, but the effects of this degradation on the sounds emanating from deteriorated habitats are largely undocumented, as is the effectiveness of habitat restoration in reestablishing natural soundscapes. In this study, we investigated how ambient sound emanating from three near-shore, tropical habitats (subtidal mangrove prop-root habitat, seagrass, and sponge-dominated hard-bottom) in the Florida Keys, Florida (USA) varied with time-of-day and lunar phase. We also examined whether the destruction of sponge communities in hard-bottom habitats struck by cyanobacteria blooms alters the soundscape of that habitat, and if restoration of sponge communities can reestablish natural underwater soundscapes. Soundscapes of each habitat were examined using several acoustic metrics, including spectral analysis and counts of fish calls and snapping shrimp snaps. Mangrove, healthy hard-bottom, and restored hard-bottom habitats had higher soundscape spectra levels than seagrass and degraded hard-bottom whether at noon or dusk during new or full moons. Low-frequency sounds, most likely fish calls in the ~ 300 Hz frequency range, were most prevalent in mangroves during dusk full moons. There were also higher numbers of snapping shrimp snaps in mangrove, healthy hard-bottom, and restored hard-bottom habitats than in degraded hard-bottom and seagrass beds, especially during the prominent dusk snapping shrimp chorus. Our results demonstrate that near-shore tropical habitats have unique soundscapes that are diminished by habitat degradation, but can be reestablished by habitat restoration, at least in the case of sponge-dominated hard-bottom.

The Relationship between Vessel Traffic and Noise Levels Received by Killer Whales (Orcinus orca)

Houghton J, Holt MM, Giles DA, M. Hanson B, Emmons CK, Hogan JT, Branch TA, VanBlaricom GR. The Relationship between Vessel Traffic and Noise Levels Received by Killer Whales (Orcinus orca). PLOS ONE [Internet]. 2015 ;10(12):e0140119. Available from: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0140119
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Whale watching has become increasingly popular as an ecotourism activity around the globe and is beneficial for environmental education and local economies. Southern Resident killer whales (Orcinus orca) comprise an endangered population that is frequently observed by a large whale watching fleet in the inland waters of Washington state and British Columbia. One of the factors identified as a risk to recovery for the population is the effect of vessels and associated noise. An examination of the effects of vessels and associated noise on whale behavior utilized novel equipment to address limitations of previous studies. Digital acoustic recording tags (DTAGs) measured the noise levels the tagged whales received while laser positioning systems allowed collection of geo-referenced data for tagged whales and all vessels within 1000 m of the tagged whale. The objective of the current study was to compare vessel data and DTAG recordings to relate vessel traffic to the ambient noise received by tagged whales. Two analyses were conducted, one including all recording intervals, and one that excluded intervals when only the research vessel was present. For all data, significant predictors of noise levels were length (inverse relationship), number of propellers, and vessel speed, but only 15% of the variation in noise was explained by this model. When research-vessel-only intervals were excluded, vessel speed was the only significant predictor of noise levels, and explained 42% of the variation. Simple linear regressions (ignoring covariates) found that average vessel speed and number of propellers were the only significant correlates with noise levels. We conclude that vessel speed is the most important predictor of noise levels received by whales in this study. Thus, measures that reduce vessel speed in the vicinity of killer whales would reduce noise exposure in this population.

Seismic surveys and marine turtles: An underestimated global threat?

Nelms SE, Piniak WED, Weir CR, Godley BJ. Seismic surveys and marine turtles: An underestimated global threat?. Biological Conservation [Internet]. 2016 ;193:49 - 65. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006320715301452
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Seismic surveys are widely used in marine geophysical oil and gas exploration, employing airguns to produce sound-waves capable of penetrating the sea floor. In recent years, concerns have been raised over the biological impacts of this activity, particularly for marine mammals. While exploration occurs in the waters of at least fifty countries where marine turtles are present, the degree of threat posed by seismic surveys is almost entirely unknown. To investigate this issue, a mixed-methods approach involving a systematic review, policy comparison and stakeholder analysis was employed and recommendations for future research were identified. This study found that turtles have been largely neglected both in terms of research and their inclusion in mitigation policies. Few studies have investigated the potential for seismic surveys to cause behavioural changes or physical damage, indicating a crucial knowledge gap. Possible ramifications for turtles include exclusion from critical habitats, damage to hearing and entanglement in seismic survey equipment. Despite this, the policy comparison revealed that only three countries worldwide currently include turtles in their seismic mitigation guidelines and very few of the measures they specify are based on scientific evidence or proven effectiveness. Opinions obtained from stakeholder groups further highlight the urgent need for directed, in-depth empirical research to better inform and develop appropriate mitigation strategies. As seismic surveying is becoming increasingly widespread and frequent, it is important and timely that we evaluate the extent to which marine turtles, a taxon of global conservation concern, may be affected.

Impacts of regular and random noise on the behaviour, growth and development of larval Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua)

Nedelec SL, Simpson SD, Morley EL, Nedelec B, Radford AN. Impacts of regular and random noise on the behaviour, growth and development of larval Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua). Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences [Internet]. 2015 ;282(1817). Available from: http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/282/1817/20151943.abstract
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Anthropogenic noise impacts behaviour and physiology in many species, but responses could change with repeat exposures. As repeat exposures can vary in regularity, identifying regimes with less impact is important for regulation. We use a 16-day split-brood experiment to compare effects of regular and random acoustic noise (playbacks of recordings of ships), relative to ambient-noise controls, on behaviour, growth and development of larval Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua). Short-term noise caused startle responses in newly hatched fish, irrespective of rearing noise. Two days of both regular and random noise regimes reduced growth, while regular noise led to faster yolk sac use. After 16 days, growth in all three sound treatments converged, although fish exposed to regular noise had lower body width–length ratios. Larvae with lower body width–length ratios were easier to catch in a predator-avoidance experiment. Our results demonstrate that the timing of acoustic disturbances can impact survival-related measures during development. Much current work focuses on sound levels, but future studies should consider the role of noise regularity and its importance for noise management and mitigation measures.

Impacts of anthropogenic noise on marine life: Publication patterns, new discoveries, and future directions in research and management

Williams R, Wright AJ, Ashe E, Blight LK, Bruintjes R, Canessa R, Clark CW, Cullis-Suzuki S, Dakin DT, Erbe C, et al. Impacts of anthropogenic noise on marine life: Publication patterns, new discoveries, and future directions in research and management. Ocean & Coastal Management [Internet]. 2015 ;115:17 - 24. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S096456911500160X
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Anthropogenic underwater noise is now recognized as a world-wide problem, and recent studies have shown a broad range of negative effects in a variety of taxa. Underwater noise from shipping is increasingly recognized as a significant and pervasive pollutant with the potential to impact marine ecosystems on a global scale. We reviewed six regional case studies as examples of recent research and management activities relating to ocean noise in a variety of taxonomic groups, locations, and approaches. However, as no six projects could ever cover all taxa, sites and noise sources, a brief bibliometric analysis places these case studies into the broader historical and topical context of the peer-reviewed ocean noise literature as a whole. The case studies highlighted emerging knowledge of impacts, including the ways that non-injurious effects can still accumulate at the population level, and detailed approaches to guide ocean noise management. They build a compelling case that a number of anthropogenic noise types can affect a variety of marine taxa. Meanwhile, the bibliometric analyses revealed an increasing diversity of ocean noise topics covered and journal outlets since the 1940s. This could be seen in terms of both the expansion of the literature from more physical interests to ecological impacts of noise, management and policy, and consideration of a widening range of taxa. However, if our scientific knowledge base is ever to get ahead of the curve of rapid industrialization of the ocean, we are going to have to identify naïve populations and relatively pristine seas, and construct mechanistic models, so that we can predict impacts before they occur, and guide effective mitigation for the most vulnerable populations.

Characteristics and Propagation of Airgun Pulses in Shallow Water with Implications for Effects on Small Marine Mammals

Hermannsen L, Tougaard J, Beedholm K, Nabe-Nielsen J, Madsen PTeglberg. Characteristics and Propagation of Airgun Pulses in Shallow Water with Implications for Effects on Small Marine Mammals. PLOS ONE [Internet]. 2015 ;10(7):e0133436. Available from: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0133436
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Airguns used in seismic surveys are among the most prevalent and powerful anthropogenic noise sources in marine habitats. They are designed to produce most energy below 100 Hz, but the pulses have also been reported to contain medium-to-high frequency components with the potential to affect small marine mammals, which have their best hearing sensitivity at higher frequencies. In shallow water environments, inhabited by many of such species, the impact of airgun noise may be particularly challenging to assess due to complex propagation conditions. To alleviate the current lack of knowledge on the characteristics and propagation of airgun pulses in shallow water with implications for effects on small marine mammals, we recorded pulses from a single airgun with three operating volumes (10 in3, 25 in3 and 40 in3) at six ranges (6, 120, 200, 400, 800 and 1300 m) in a uniform shallow water habitat using two calibrated Reson 4014 hydrophones and four DSG-Ocean acoustic data recorders. We show that airgun pulses in this shallow habitat propagated out to 1300 meters in a way that can be approximated by a 18log(r) geometric transmission loss model, but with a high pass filter effect from the shallow water depth. Source levels were back-calculated to 192 dB re µPa2s (sound exposure level) and 200 dB re 1 µPa dB Leq-fast (rms over 125 ms duration), and the pulses contained substantial energy up to 10 kHz, even at the furthest recording station at 1300 meters. We conclude that the risk of causing hearing damage when using single airguns in shallow waters is small for both pinnipeds and porpoises. However, there is substantial potential for significant behavioral responses out to several km from the airgun, well beyond the commonly used shut-down zone of 500 meters.

Underwater Noise from a Wave Energy Converter Is Unlikely to Affect Marine Mammals

Tougaard J. Underwater Noise from a Wave Energy Converter Is Unlikely to Affect Marine Mammals. PLOS ONE [Internet]. 2015 ;10(7):e0132391. Available from: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0132391
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Underwater noise was recorded from the Wavestar wave energy converter; a full-scale hydraulic point absorber, placed on a jack-up rig on the Danish North Sea coast. Noise was recorded 25 m from the converter with an autonomous recording unit (10 Hz to 20 kHz bandwidth). Median sound pressure levels (Leq) in third-octave bands during operation of the converter were 106–109 dB re. 1 μPa in the range 125–250 Hz, 1–2 dB above ambient noise levels (statistically significant). Outside the range 125–250 Hz the noise from the converter was undetectable above the ambient noise. During start and stop of the converter a more powerful tone at 150 Hz (sound pressure level (Leq) 121–125 dB re 1 μPa) was easily detectable. This tone likely originated from the hydraulic pump which was used to lower the absorbers into the water and lift them out of the water at shutdown. Noise levels from the operating wave converter were so low that they would barely be audible to marine mammals and the likelihood of negative impact from the noise appears minimal. A likely explanation for the low noise emissions is the construction of the converter where all moving parts, except for the absorbers themselves, are placed above water on a jack-up rig. The results may thus not be directly transferable to other wave converter designs but do demonstrate that it is possible to harness wave energy without noise pollution to the marine environment.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Soundscapes and Acoustics