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Hearing thresholds of a harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) for playbacks of multiple pile driving strike sounds

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Author: Kastelein, R.A. · Hoek, L. · Gransier, R. · Jong, C.A.F. de
Source:Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, September, 3, 134, 2302-2306
Identifier: 477585
doi: doi:10.1121/1.4817842
Keywords: Marine · Harbor Porpoise · Sea mammals · Hearing threshold · Underwater Sound · Pile Driving · High Tech Maritime and Offshore Systems · Industrial Innovation · Physics & Electronics · AS - Acoustics & Sonar · TS - Technical Sciences


Pile driving is presently the most common method used to attach wind turbines to the sea bed. To assess the impact of pile driving sounds on harbor porpoises, it is important to know at what distance these sounds can be detected. Using a psychophysical technique, a male porpoise’s hearing thresholds were obtained for series of five pile driving sounds (inter-pulse interval 1.2–1.3 s) recorded at 100 and 800m from the pile driving site, and played back in a pool. The 50% detection threshold sound exposure levels (SELs) for the first sound of the series (no masking) were 72 (100m) and 74 (800m) dB re 1uPa2s. Multiple sounds in succession (series) caused a -5dB decrease in hearing threshold; the mean 50% detection threshold SELs for any sound in the series were 68 (100m) and 69 (800m) dB re 1uPa2s Depending on the actual propagation conditions and background noise levels, the results suggest that pile driving sounds are audible to porpoises at least at tens of kilometers from pile driving sites. 2013 Acoustical Society of America