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Title: Beaked whales respond to simulated and actual navy sonar
Authors: Tyack, Peter L.
Zimmer, Walter M. X.
Moretti, David
Southall, Brandon L.
Claridge, Diane E.
Durban, John W.
Clark, Christopher W.
D'Amico, Angela
DiMarzio, Nancy
Jarvis, Susan
McCarthy, Elena
Morrissey, Ronald
Ward, Jessica
Boyd, Ian L.
Keywords: Mesoplodon-europeus
Killer whales
QL Zoology
Issue Date: 14-Mar-2011
Citation: Tyack , P L , Zimmer , W M X , Moretti , D , Southall , B L , Claridge , D E , Durban , J W , Clark , C W , D'Amico , A , DiMarzio , N , Jarvis , S , McCarthy , E , Morrissey , R , Ward , J & Boyd , I L 2011 , ' Beaked whales respond to simulated and actual navy sonar ' PLoS One , vol 6 , no. 3 , e17009 , pp. - . , 10.1371/journal.pone.0017009
Abstract: Beaked whales have mass stranded during some naval sonar exercises, but the cause is unknown. They are difficult to sight but can reliably be detected by listening for echolocation clicks produced during deep foraging dives. Listening for these clicks, we documented Blainville's beaked whales, Mesoplodon densirostris, in a naval underwater range where sonars are in regular use near Andros Island, Bahamas. An array of bottom-mounted hydrophones can detect beaked whales when they click anywhere within the range. We used two complementary methods to investigate behavioral responses of beaked whales to sonar: an opportunistic approach that monitored whale responses to multi-day naval exercises involving tactical mid-frequency sonars, and an experimental approach using playbacks of simulated sonar and control sounds to whales tagged with a device that records sound, movement, and orientation. Here we show that in both exposure conditions beaked whales stopped echolocating during deep foraging dives and moved away. During actual sonar exercises, beaked whales were primarily detected near the periphery of the range, on average 16 km away from the sonar transmissions. Once the exercise stopped, beaked whales gradually filled in the center of the range over 2-3 days. A satellite tagged whale moved outside the range during an exercise, returning over 2-3 days post-exercise. The experimental approach used tags to measure acoustic exposure and behavioral reactions of beaked whales to one controlled exposure each of simulated military sonar, killer whale calls, and band-limited noise. The beaked whales reacted to these three sound playbacks at sound pressure levels below 142 dB re 1 mu Pa by stopping echolocation followed by unusually long and slow ascents from their foraging dives. The combined results indicate similar disruption of foraging behavior and avoidance by beaked whales in the two different contexts, at exposures well below those used by regulators to define disturbance.
Version: Publisher PDF
Status: Peer reviewed
ISSN: 1932-6203
Type: Journal article
Rights: This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Public Domain declaration which stipulates that, once placed in the public domain, this work may be freely reproduced, distributed, transmitted, modified, built upon, or otherwise used by anyone for any lawful purpose.
Appears in Collections:NERC Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU) Research
University of St Andrews Research
Biology Research
Institute of Behavioural and Neural Sciences Research
Scottish Oceans Institute Research

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