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High Risk Behaviors in Marine Mammals: Linking Behavioral Responses to Anthropogenic Disturbance to Biological Consequences

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Technical Report

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Center for Ocean Health- Long Marine Lab, University of California-Santa Cruz Santa Cruz United States

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The proposed project focuses on the physiological costs and potential risks of three common responses by cetaceans to oceanic noise, 1 high-speed swimming, 2 elevated stroke frequencies, and 3 rapid ascent from depth. By combining data from previous studies as well as from the proposed experiments, we will provide the first comprehensive evaluation of biological safety zones for diving marine mammals. In this way we intend to identify those marine mammal species or specific attributes of each species that are associated with susceptibility to acoustically mediated disturbance and tissue damage. Furthermore, by identifying high risk and low risk behaviors, and the specific triggers for tissue injury and cardiac instability, we will accomplish the overall objective of improving the protection of marine mammals during naval operations.

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