[MARMAM] On-Line Lecture this Thursday: "New Findings on the Effects of Noise on the Behavior of Whales and Dolphins"

Renee Owens renee at wildlifezone.net
Thu Jan 13 19:07:16 PST 2011

As an environmental consultant in Southern California for 17 years, and as someone who studied the bioacoustics of the Commerson's dolphin, I have serious reservation regarding research, especially its purported importance.  I find this subject a very important and serious one, and am concerned that this research, which is supposed to be unbiased, has been funded by the Navy. 

I'd also like to know how this research overrides strategies that we already are aware of (and could be developing further if funded), regarding sound buffering and military sonar alternatives, that we would have already applied if the Navy or NOAA ever aggressively followed the precautionary principle in their purported efforts to mitigate harm to marine mammals, something they rarely if ever do in Southern California - as is evidenced by NOAA's conduct in San Diego (or more specifically, their overt lack thereof) over the past 12 years regarding effective, collaborative conservation management of Harbor seals and sea lions; and also by the Navy's refusal (in court and in public) to admit that lack of evidence does not indicate 'no significant negative impact', in respect to the effect of military training sonar on cetaceans.

I realize this may not be the most welcome post on this forum - if it is allowed at all considering the conservative tendencies of such forum administrators - but I would feel irresponsible if I did not speak out on this topic.

Renee Owens
Native Wildlife Solutions, Inc.
Owens Environmental, llc.
San Diego
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Trevor Spradlin 
  To: MARMAM at lists.uvic.ca 
  Cc: David Cottingham ; Charley Potter ; Brandon Southall ; AMY SCHOLIK 
  Sent: Thursday, January 13, 2011 6:21 AM
  Subject: Re: [MARMAM] On-Line Lecture this Thursday: "New Findings on the Effects of Noise on the Behavior of Whales and Dolphins"

  Dear MARMAM Subscribers:

  Dr. Southall's lecture is available online on the Smithsonian's web site at:


  Cheers -- Trevor et al.

  Trevor Spradlin wrote: 
    The NOAA/NMFS Office of Protected Resources and the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History (Department of Vertebrate Zoology in conjunction with the Office of Education and National Outreach Program) are pleased to announce that Dr. Brandon Southall (SEA, Inc., and UC-Santa Cruz) will be giving a lecture this week in Washington, DC on the research he and colleagues conducted last year for the "SOCAL-10" project to evaluate the behavioral responses of cetaceans to underwater human sounds.  The lecture at the Smithsonian will be available to the public in real-time via live video stream on the Web, and will be archived for future viewing as well.  Following, below, are the details about Dr. Southall's presentation and how to access it online.   We hope you can join us and Dr. Southall via the Web! 
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    Trevor Spradlin and Amy Scholik-Schlomer                     Charles Potter 
    Office of Protected Resources                                          Collection Manager, Marine Mammals 
    National Marine Fisheries Service                                     National Museum of Natural History 
    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration            Smithsonian Institution

    New Findings on the Effects of Noise on the Behavior of Whales and Dolphins

    Brandon Southall, Ph.D.
    President and Senior Scientist for Southall Environmental Associates, Inc., and Research Associate with the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC)

    Date:  Thursday, January 6, 2011 
    Time:  2 pm ET 
    Location: Live video stream from the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History at: 

    <!--[if !supportLineBreakNewLine]-->
    SOCAL-10 was a scientific research project conducted in Aug-Sept 2010 in important biological areas near southern California.  It extended previous studies in the Bahamas (2007-08) and Mediterranean Sea (2009) of whether and how marine mammals change their behavior when they hear different sounds.  Each of these efforts has integrated behavioral response studies to controlled sound exposures with ongoing research on diving, foraging, and social behavior.  The overall objective was to provide a better basic understanding of marine mammal behavior, while providing direct scientific information for the Navy and regulatory agencies to estimate risk and minimize the impact of human sounds, particularly military sonar.  SOCAL-10 was the first in a five-year dedicated effort to study a variety of marine mammal species in areas around the southern California coast and Channel Islands.

    SOCAL-10 involved an interdisciplinary collaboration of experts in marine mammal biology, behavior, and communication, as well as underwater acousticians and specialized field researchers.  During a preliminary scouting phase and two research legs on several different research vessels, SOCAL-10 observed, photographed, and/or tracked in detail, individuals of 21 different marine mammal species.  Sixty-two tags (of six different varieties) were successfully secured on 44 individual animals of nine different marine mammal species, including several which had never been studied using tag technologies previously.  Scientists also conducted 28 controlled sound exposure experiments; in these experiments, animals were monitored with suction cup acoustic sensors, remote listening devices and specialized observers with high-powered binoculars.  Sounds were then played under specific protocols and protective measures (to ensure animals were not harmed) and changes in behavior were recorded.

    Preliminary results based primarily on clearly observable behavior in the field and from initial data assessment indicate variable responses, depending on species, type of sound, and behavioral state during the experiments.  Some observations in certain conditions suggest avoidance responses, while in other cases subjects seemed to not respond, at least overtly.   Additional analysis and interpretation is underway of the nearly 400 hours of tag data from the project, as well as thousands of marine mammal observations, photographs, tissue samples, and acoustic measurements.

    For additional information, please see:

    SOCAL-10 website http://www.sea-inc.net/SOCAL10/
    SOCAL-10 blog http://sea.typepad.com/sea-blog/
    SOCAL-10 Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Behavioral-Response-Studies-of-Marine-Mammals/153316228012219
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