Marine mammal noise exposure criteria: initial scientific recommendations (2009)

TitleMarine mammal noise exposure criteria: initial scientific recommendations (2009)
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsSouthall, B. L., A. E. Bowles, W. T. Ellison, J. J. Finneran, R. L. Gentry, C. R. Greene, Jr., D. Kastak, D. R. Ketten, J. H. Miller, P. E. Nachtigall, J. W. Richardson, J. A. Thomas, and P. L. Tyack
Conference NameProceedings of the 157th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America
Date Published04/2009
PublisherAcoustical Society of America
Conference LocationPortland, Oregon
KeywordsABR, acoustic repertoire, acoustic trauma, acoustics, AEP, ambient noise, anthropogenic sound, audiogram, audiometry, auditory brainstem response, auditory evoked potentials, auditory pathology, bioacoustics, echolocation, hearing, hearing loss, hearing pathology, hearing range, histopathology, IEBT, impulse noise, inner ear barotrauma, marine mammals, mass stranding, modeling, models, mysticetes, noise, noise exposure, odontocetes, permanent threshold shift, pinnipeds, PTS, sonar, sound production, sound reception, temporary threshold shift, trauma, TTS, vocalization

An expert panel reviewed the expanding literature on marine mammal (cetacean and pinniped) auditory and behavioral responses to sound exposure to develop comprehensive, scientifically based noise exposure criteria [Aquatic Mammals 33(4)]. They used precautionary extrapolation procedures to predict exposure levels above which adverse effects (both physical and behavioral) could be expected. Due to the paucity of data on long-term exposures, criteria were developed for single exposure events only. Marine mammals were broken into functional hearing groups. Exposure types were lumped into three broad classes (single pulses, multiple pulses, and non pulses). Levels estimated to induce permanent noise-induced hearing loss were determined for each of 15 sound type/animal group combinations. For example, injury criteria for pinnipeds in water exposed to multiple pulses were 186 dB re 1 µPa2 -s (weighted SEL) and 218 dBpk re 1 µPa (unweighted peak SPL). Discrete behavioral disturbance thresholds could only be determined for exposure to single pulses. For other exposures, available data on behavioral responses were ranked by severity and significance. This severity scaling and the resulting conclusions will be described. New research required to improve criteria and to assess cumulative and ecosystem-level effects will also be considered, along with current policy and/or regulatory applications.