3S2: Behavioral Response Studies of Cetaceans to Navy Sonar Signals in Norwegian Waters
University of Saint Andrews Saint Andrews United Kingdom
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A primary goal of this international cooperative research program was to investigate behavioral reactions of three species of whales bottlenose whales, minke whales, and humpback whales elicited by exposures to quantified dosages of naval active sonar signals in the 1-2 kHz range. The results are interpreted to help establish safety limits for sonar operations for these species. Another primary goal of the program was to assess the effectiveness of ramp-up, a common mitigation protocol in which source levels are gradually increased prior to the onset of full-level transmissions. Ramp-up is designed to give nearby animals the chance to move away before sonar transmissions reach maximum levels. However, it is unknown whether or not this protocol is actually effective for animals in their natural environment. We developed and implemented an experimental design to test whether the ramp-up procedure is an effective protocol to reduce risk of harm from sonar activities. This is the final report of this project.