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Off-Range Beaked Whale Studies (ORBS): Baseline Data and Tagging Development for Northern Bottlenose Whales (Hyperoodon ampulatus) off Jan Mayen, Norway

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Technical Report,01 Oct 2014,30 Sep 2015

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The question of how beaked whales are affected by naval sonar is important for the US Navy as information is required for accurate environmental assessments. A number of recent studies have reported behavioral responses of a small number of beaked whales to experimentally-presented sonar signals Tyack et al., 2011 DeRuiter et al., 2013 Stimpert et al., 2014, Miller et al., 2015. These studies indicate that beaked whales do respond behaviorally to sonar, typically showing a combination of avoidance and cessation of feeding, with responses to simulated sonar starting at low received levels. These types of behavioral changes are confirmed by monitoring of vocal activity using Navy range hydrophones Tyack et al., 2011 Moretti et al., 2014, and are consistent with longer-term movement of beaked whales around the AUTEC range Tyack et al., 2011. One concern with the current status of our scientific knowledge is that most of the information on beaked whale responses has been collected in areas directly on, or adjacent to, US Naval facilities. It is possible that animals which are resident in those areas may not be typical of beaked whales in the rest of the worlds oceans. In 2013, the ONR-funded project 3S2 conducted a behavioral response study experiment with the beaked whale Hyperoodon ampullatus, the northern bottlenose whale, in a pristine environment near Jan Mayen using a 1-2 kHz sonar with a maximum source level of 214dB re 1Pa see Related Programs. Results of that experiment indicated a clear and strong behavioral response with prolonged avoidance of the source and cessation of foraging, including a silent non-foraging dive which was the longest-duration and deepest dive recorded for the species Miller et al., 2015. Other non-tagged whales in the experimentally-exposed area also moved away andor ceased producing feeding-related vocalizations.

Subject Categories:

  • Biological Oceanography
  • Stress Physiology
  • Acoustic Detection and Detectors

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