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New research listening in on whales as they hunt

December 5, 2013

Two new research projects are taking important next steps in understanding the importance of sound, and clear listening, to whales.  In recent years, ocean bioacousticians have introduced the concept of “communication space” or “effective listening area” to scientific parlance. This began as a conceptual framework for thinking about how human sounds (especially shipping noise) may […]

New paper details the acoustic quality of critical whale habitats

November 27, 2013

AEI lay summary of:R. Williams, C.W. Clark, D. Ponirakis, and E. Ashe.  Acoustic quality of critical habitats for three threatened whale populations.  Animal Conservation (2013). Innovative research along the coast of British Columbia has quantified the degree to which shipping noise is reducing the distance at which whale vocalizations can be heard.  This is one […]

Powerful mapping sonar likely triggered Madagascar mass stranding

October 8, 2013

AEI lay summary of:Southall, B.L., Rowles, T., Gulland, F., Baird, R. W., and Jepson, P.D. 2013. Final report of the Independent Scientific Review Panel investigating potential contributing factors to a 2008 mass stranding of melon-headed whales (Peponocephala electra) in Antsohihy, Madagascar.Download full report or executive summary.See IWC website for report and all supporting materials  For […]

2008 UK stranding linked to Navy exercises

May 6, 2013

On June 9, 2008, 26 common dolphins, 21 of them infants, stranded and died in river estuaries around Falmouth Bay, as several days of Naval exercises involving over 30 ships wound down (see AIEnews coverage at the time).  A four-year study (read it online) has  concluded that unspecified Naval activities are “the most probable (but […]

Detailed new maps highlight excessive shipping noise in Puget Sound, BC coast

January 6, 2013

In the wake of NOAA’s large-scale ocean noise mapping project, two much more detailed studies from the Pacific Northwest have highlighted the likelihood that current shipping noise is already pushing the limits of what biologists think many ocean creatures can cope with. The first study recorded the sound from several types of boats and ships traversing […]

Join citizen science project to ID whale calls

December 2, 2011

Over the past few years, new and relatively inexpensive new hydrophone systems have allowed biologists to place autonomous recorders in far more locations, collecting vast amounts of acoustic data that can help them to understand the population dynamics of marine mammals, as well as to monitor interactions and effects of human noise on marine mammal […]

Post-conference field work: Outer Hebrides, SoCal, Santa Fe

September 3, 2010

From August 15-20, 250 ocean noise researchers, agency staff, and NGOs gathered in Cork, Ireland for the 2nd International Effects of Noise on Aquatic Life conference.  I’ll be posting more on the confab later, but for today I wanted to note the quick jump made by two of the folks I was most glad to […]

Mediterranean Beaked Whale BRS Cruise: No Tags, New Passive Monitoring Technique

October 22, 2009

A five-week beaked whale Behavioral Response Study in the Mediterranean concluded in early September with a mixed bag of results: while researchers were unable to affix D-tags to any beaked or pilot whales, they were quite successful in using a new mobile Passive Acoustic Monitoring system which could be very useful in years to come. […]

Animals Finally Respond to Music: It Just Has to be Written for Their Species!

September 2, 2009

Fascinating discovery of the day: music written for monkeys, based on their vocalizations, finally triggers a notable response.  What follows is straight from the website of the composer, who also makes music for cats.  You can hear an NPR story on the monkey research here. Many previous experiments on animal response to music composed for […]

2004 Hanalei Bay Incident Not Related to Lunar Cycle; Sonar Link Remains

August 8, 2009

During the 2004 RIMPAC multinational navy exercises in Hawaii, a pod of over 150 melon-headed whales appeared in a shallow bay, far from their normal offshore habitat.  Their agitation was obvious, and one young whale beached and died.  When it became apparent that sonar training was taking place offshore that day, the Navy initially said […]

Navy to Avoid Puget Sound in Sonar Training, But…

August 5, 2009

After suspending the use of mid-frequency active sonar training activities in Puget Sound in the wake of an incident in 2003 in which sonar sounds appeared to agitate a group of orcas, the Navy confirmed this week that a new sonar training plan, with permits to be issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service, will […]

AEI Summary of Navy EIS for Undersea Warfare Training Range

July 24, 2009

In October, 2005, the Navy released the first of their sonar-inclusive EIS’s, a Draft Environmental Impact Statement covering plans for a 500 square mile Undersea Warfare Training Range (USWTR), primarily for up to 480 anti-submarine mid-frequency active sonar exercises per year, including 100 ship-based events (2/week on average, lasting 3-4 hours each). This may serve to […]

Recent Sound Science at

July 16, 2009

After a bit of a lull, I’ve spent much of the past couple days catching up on the folder full of research published in recent months, and summarizing key papers on the main Acoustic Ecology site.  Among the studies worthy of attention are: The first direct test of harbor porpoise sensitivity to seismic survey airguns […]

BC Oil Tanker Port Planned in Rare Acoustically Quiet Coastal Zone

February 5, 2009

Plans to build a pipeline to move the fruits of Alberta’s oil fields and oil sands to the deepwater port of Kitimat, in order to ship it to Asia, are spurring widespread concerns among residents and researchers in northern British Columbia. In addition to fears of a tanker accident and rural resistence to the pipeline, […]

US Researchers Observe Whale Reactions to Sonar; UK Report Suggests “Significant” Behavioral Responses

August 5, 2008

  As a new UK Navy report suggests that beaked whales made “potentially very significant” behavioral changes in response to mid-frequency active sonar signals, a team of scientists has just completed a pilot study that involved monitoring the detailed behavior of whales during a major Naval exercise. The UK military report details observations of whale […]

Review of Possible Ways that Increasing Ocean Noise May Affect Marine Mammals

June 22, 2008

Peter L. Tyack. Implications for marine mammals of large-scale changes in the marine acoustic environment. Journal of Mammalogy, 89(3): 549-558, 2008. [DOWNLOAD PAPER(pdf)] In this wide-ranging literature review, Peter Tyack of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute sketches the history of research into the effects of noise on marine life, with some references as well to effects noted […]

UK Strandings Lead to Murky Picture of Naval Activity

June 11, 2008

A week after the UK’s worst dolphin stranding since 1981, reports from locals and the UK Navy are conflicting. Two weeks of live-fire exercises were wrapping up in the area over last weekend, with the Navy first claiming to have concluded those exercises Sunday afternoon, then saying that in fact the last live-fire took place […]

Beaked whale controlled exposure study

December 16, 2007

Initial Cruise Report From First Controlled Exposure Studies of Beaked WhalesIan Boyd, Diane Claridge, Christopher Clark, Brandon Southall, Peter Tyack. Behavioral Response Study-2007, Cruise Report, Phase 1    A summary of the project, and the preliminary cruise report are available: [WEBSITE]During August and September, 2007, the first controlled exposure experiments aimed at learning more about the […]

Beaked whales fleeing near surface at risk for bends?

December 13, 2007

Extended Near-surface Dives May Be Cause of Beaked Whale BendsWalter, M.X. Simmer, Peter L. Tyack. Repetitive shallow dives pose decompression risk in deep-diving beaked whales. Marine Mammal Science, Volume 23 Issue 4 Page 888-925, October 2007.  ScienceNow summary of paper: [WEBSITE]It is apparent that beaked whales are especially sensitive to mid-frequency sonar, but the reasons have […]