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Some examples of marine mammal 'discomfort thresholds' in relation to man-made noise

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Author: Verboom, W.C. · Kastelein, R.A.
Publisher: Nexus Media, Ltd
Place: Swanley, Kent
Institution: TNO Defensie en Veiligheid
Source:Undersea Defence Technology - UDT Europe 2005 - Shaping the future of Undersea Defence, 21-23 juni 2005, RAI, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Identifier: 221284
Keywords: Defence · Bio-acoustics · Marine mammal · Porpoise · Seal · Disturbance · Discomfort threshold · Manmade noise


World-wide a concern exists about the influence of man-made noise on marine life and particularly on marine mammals and fish. One of the acoustic polluters of the world’s oceans is high-power active sonar, but also pile driving and seismic activities at sea are of concern with respect to animal welfare. At TNO, acoustic criteria are being developed to protect marine animals from severe disturbance (or worse) due to man-made noise. One of the ‘stages’ in ‘dose-response relationships’ is the ‘discomfort threshold’, the received noise level at which a marine animal turns when approaching a noise source. In The Netherlands discomfort thresholds for a number of sound types have been determined for harbour porpoises, harbour seals and some North Sea fish species. This paper shows how those measurements were carried out and compares some results with proposed TNO dose-response relationships for marine mammals.