[MARMAM] New publication: Underwater Ambient Noise in a Baleen Whale Migratory Habitat Off the Azores (Miriam Romagosa)

Miriam Romagosa miromagosa at yahoo.es
Wed Apr 26 06:29:40 PDT 2017

Dear Marmam subscribers,
We are pleased to announce thepublication of the following article in the journal of Frontiers in MarineScience, section Deep-Sea Environments and Ecology.

Romagosa, M., Cascão, I., Merchant, N.D., Lammers, M. O., Giacomello, E., Marques, T. A. and Silva, M. A. (2017). UnderwaterAmbient Noise in a Baleen Whale Migratory Habitat Off the Azores. Frontiers inMarine Science 4. Doi: https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2017.00109
Abstract: Assessment of underwaternoise is of particular interest given the increase in noise-generating humanactivities and the potential negative effects on marine mammals which depend onsound for many vital processes. The Azores archipelago is an important migratoryand feeding habitat for blue (Balaenoptera musculus), fin (Balaenopteraphysalus) and sei whales (Balaenoptera borealis) en route to summering groundsin northern Atlantic waters. High levels of low frequency noise in this areacould displace whales or interfere with foraging behavior, impacting energyintake during a critical stage of their annual cycle. In this study,bottom-mounted Ecological Acoustic Recorders were deployed at three Azoreanseamounts (Condor, Açores, and Gigante) to measure temporal variations inbackground noise levels and ship noise in the 18–1,000 Hz frequency band, usedby baleen whales to emit and receive sounds. Monthly average noise levelsranged from 90.3 dB re 1 μPa (Açores seamount) to 103.1 dB re 1 μPa (Condorseamount) and local ship noise was present up to 13% of the recording time inCondor. At this location, average contribution of local boat noise tobackground noise levels is almost 10 dB higher than wind contribution, whichmight temporally affect detection ranges for baleen whale calls and difficultcommunication at long ranges. Given the low time percentage with noise levelsabove 120 dB re 1 μPa found here (3.3% at Condor), we would expect limitedbehavioral responses to ships from baleen whales. Sound pressure levelsmeasured in the Azores are lower than those reported for the Mediterraneanbasin and the Strait of Gibraltar. However, the currently unknown effects ofbaleen whale vocalization masking and the increasing presence of boats at themonitored sites underline the need for continuous monitoring to understand anylong-term impacts on whales.


The publication is available at:


Kind regards,


Miriam Romagosa

Miriam Romagosa 

PhD student 
MARE – Marine and EnvironmentalSciences Centre & IMAR Centre;Department of Oceanography andFisheries, University of the Azores9901-862Horta Portugal Tel:(351) 292200475Fax:(351) 292200411 E-mail:miromagosa at yahoo.es http://www.whales.uac.pt/

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