[MARMAM] Blue whale behavioral responses to military sonar - new publication

Brandon Southall brandon.southall at sea-inc.net
Thu Mar 7 20:46:25 PST 2019


We are very pleased to announce the publication of a new paper on the behavioral responses of individual blue whales to controlled exposure experiments with military mid-frequency sonars. This study included one of the largest sample sizes (n=42) for marine mammal studies of behavioral responses to sonar and also the first-ever coordination with full-scale operational Navy vessels within a behavioral response study. The full reference and abstract are given below.
The paper is available online at: http://jeb.biologists.org/content/222/5/jeb190637
A .pdf is also upon email request to: Brandon.Southall at sea-inc.net<mailto:Brandon.Southall at sea-inc.net>

Many thanks,
Brandon Southall on behalf of my co-authors


Southall, B. L., DeRuiter, S. L., Friedlaender, A., Stimpert, A.K.,.Goldbogen, J.A., Hazen, E., Casey, C., Fregosi, S., Cade, D.E., Allen, A.N., Harris, C.M., Schorr, G., Moretti, D., Guan, S., and Calambokidis, J. (2019). Behavioral responses of individual blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus) to mid-frequency military sonar. Journal of Experimental Biology, 222, jeb190637. doi:10.1242/jeb.190637

This study measured the degree of behavioral responses in blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus) to controlled noise exposure off the southern California coast. High-resolution movement and passive acoustic data were obtained from non-invasive archival tags (n=42) while surface positions were obtained with visual focal follows. Controlled exposure experiments (CEEs) were used to obtain direct behavioral measurements before, during, and after simulated and operational military mid-frequency active sonar (MFAS), pseudorandom noise (PRN), and controls (no noise exposure). For a subset of deep-foraging animals (n=21), active acoustic measurements of prey were obtained and used as contextual covariates in response analyses. To investigate potential behavioral changes within individuals as a function of controlled noise exposure conditions, two parallel analyses of time-series data for selected behavioral parameters (e.g., diving, horizontal movement, feeding) were conducted. This included expert scoring of responses according to a specified behavioral severity rating paradigm and quantitative change-point analyses using Mahalanobis distance statistics. Both methods identified clear changes in some conditions. More than 50% of blue whales in deep feeding states responded during CEEs, while no changes in behavior were identified in shallow-feeding blue whales. Overall, responses were generally brief, of low to moderate severity, and highly dependent on exposure context such as behavioral state, source-to-whale horizontal range, and prey availability. Response probability did not follow a simple dose-response model based on received exposure level. These results, in combination with additional analytical methods to investigate different aspects of potential responses within and among individuals, provide a comprehensive evaluation of how free-ranging blue whales responded to mid-frequency military sonar.
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