[MARMAM] Publication: Seismic surveys reduce cetacean sightings across a large marine ecosystem

Ailbhe Kavanagh ailbheskavanagh at gmail.com
Wed Dec 18 07:41:52 PST 2019

My co-authors and I are pleased to announce our new publication entitled
'Seismic surveys reduce cetacean sightings across a large marine ecosystem'
in *Scientific Reports.*

The paper is freely available


Kavanagh, A.S., Nykänen, M., Hunt, W., Richardson, N., Jessopp, M.

Noise pollution is increasing globally, and as oceans are excellent
conductors of sound, this is a major concern for marine species reliant on
sound for key life functions. Loud, impulsive sounds from seismic surveys
have been associated with impacts on many marine taxa including mammals,
crustaceans, cephalopods, and fish. However, impacts across large spatial
scales or multiple species are rarely considered. We modelled over 8,000
hours of cetacean survey data across a large marine ecosystem covering >880,000
km2 to investigate the effect of seismic surveys on baleen and toothed
whales. We found a significant effect of seismic activity across multiple
species and habitats, with an 88% (82–92%) decrease in sightings of baleen
whales, and a 53% (41–63%) decrease in sightings of toothed whales during
active seismic surveys when compared to control surveys. Significantly
fewer sightings of toothed whales also occurred during active versus
inactive airgun periods of seismic surveys, although some species-specific
response to noise was observed. This study provides strong evidence of
multi-species impacts from seismic survey noise on cetaceans. Given the
global proliferation of seismic surveys and large propagation distances of
airgun noise, our results highlight the large-scale impacts that marine
species are currently facing.

Contact: Ailbhe kavanagh (ailbheskavanagh at gmail.com) or Mark Jessopp (
m.jessopp at ucc.ie)
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