If we had our choice, we’d just study marine wildlife on its own terms. Realistically, the animals we study live in an increasingly human-dominated landscape. Human activities influence how loud the ocean is, how much fish is available to support marine mammal populations, and how many whales are killed by ship strikes or how many dolphins and porpoise are entangled in fishing nets. Much of our early work measured behavioural responses of killer whales to boat traffic. If boats disturb whales over and over again, this can affect the whales’ activity budgets, which can carry energetic costs. Ultimately, all the ship traffic – whalewatching boats, container ships, ferries and oil tankers – increse ambient noise levels in important whale habitats. Read more about the issue of chronic ocean noise on our Acoustics page.
We recently published a paper reporting ocean noise levels in important whale habitats along the BC coast. At the same time, we released an animation that outlined the key concepts. Our research showed that the most important habitats for killer whales were the noisiest; important habitats for humpback whales were comparatively quiet.
We thought you might like to hear for yourself what those sites sound like. Don’t worry. We won’t make you listen to all 10,000 hours of recordings, but our co-authors (Dimitri Ponirakis and Chris Clark) at Cornell University’s Bioacoustics Research Program distilled some of the results into this nifty PowerPoint slide. It’s a big file (22MB), but it lets you see and hear what Haro Strait and Douglas Channel sound like.
The neatest part of Dimitri’s work is that there was a windstorm partway through this period. You can hear the wind on the recordings made off Kitimat (Douglas Channel), but the same wind noise cannot be heard in Haro Strait over the background noise from ships. We still have a lot of work to do to understand what these noise levels might mean to whales and fish in terms of ecological effects, but we thought you might like to see and hear some of the recordings. Please let us know what you think.
<iframe src=”http://www.slideshare.net/slideshow/embed_code/28172039″ width=”427″ height=”356″ frameborder=”0″ marginwidth=”0″ marginheight=”0″ scrolling=”no” style=”border:1px solid #CCC;border-width:1px 1px 0;margin-bottom:5px” allowfullscreen> </iframe> <div style=”margin-bottom:5px”> <strong> <a href=”https://www.slideshare.net/oceansinitiative/fig-s1-exampleltsasandaudiofilesharostraitandkitimat” title=”Fig s1 example_lts_as_and_audio_files_haro_strait_and_kitimat” target=”_blank”>Fig s1 example_lts_as_and_audio_files_haro_strait_and_kitimat</a> </strong> from <strong><a href=”http://www.slideshare.net/oceansinitiative” target=”_blank”>Oceans Initiative</a></strong> </div>