[MARMAM] New paper on effects of vessel noise on wild harbor porpoises

Danuta Maria Wisniewska danuta.wisniewska at bios.au.dk
Wed Feb 14 13:04:21 PST 2018

Dear All,
We are pleased to announce the publication of the following paper in Proceedings of the Royal Society B:
High rates of vessel noise disrupt foraging in wild harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena).
Wisniewska DM, Johnson M, Teilmann J, Siebert U, Galatius A, Dietz R, Madsen PT. 2018 Proc. R. Soc. B 285:20172314. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2017.2314


-         We quantified the vessel noise budget of seven porpoises in their natural environment.

-         In their busy coastal habitat, the porpoises were exposed to vessel noise 17-89% of the time, primarily at low levels.

-         Observed reactions to occasional high-level exposures involved vigorous fluking, interrupted foraging and even cessation of echolocation.

-         This led to a general pattern of reduced foraging effort in the presence of high-level noise.

-         Our results raise concerns about the effects of vessel noise on other lower-frequency toothed whale species.


Shipping is the dominant marine anthropogenic noise source in the world's oceans, yet we know little about vessel encounter rates, exposure levels and behavioural reactions for cetaceans in the wild, many of which rely on sound for foraging, communication and social interactions. Here, we used animal-borne acoustic tags to measure vessel noise exposure and foraging efforts in seven harbour porpoises in highly-trafficked coastal waters. Tagged porpoises encountered vessel noise 17-89% of the time and occasional high noise levels coincided with vigorous fluking, bottom diving, interrupted foraging, and even cessation of echolocation, leading to significantly fewer prey capture attempts at received levels >96 dB re 1µPa (16-kHz third-octave). If such exposures occur frequently, porpoises, which have high metabolic requirements, may be unable to compensate energetically with negative long-term fitness consequences. That shipping noise disrupts foraging in the high-frequency-hearing porpoise raises concerns that other toothed whale species may also be affected.

You can find the article here: http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/285/1872/20172314
Or send any enquires directly to me at danuta at stanford.edu<mailto:danuta at stanford.edu>

Best regards,
Danuta Maria Wisniewska

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