[MARMAM] New publication: Changes in the acoustic activity of beaked whales and sperm whales recorded during a naval training exercise off eastern Canada

Stanistreet, Joy Joy.Stanistreet at dfo-mpo.gc.ca
Mon Feb 7 10:03:16 PST 2022

Dear MARMAM community,

My coauthors and I are pleased to announce the publication of our paper, 'Changes in the acoustic activity of beaked whales and sperm whales recorded during a naval training exercise off eastern Canada,' in Scientific Reports.

Joy E. Stanistreet, Wilfried A. M. Beslin, Katie Kowarski, S. Bruce Martin, Annabel Westell, & Hilary B. Moors-Murphy.

You can freely access the paper here: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-022-05930-4

Experimental research has shown that beaked whales exhibit strong avoidance reactions to naval active sonars used during antisubmarine warfare training exercises, including cessation of echolocation and foraging activity. Behavioural responses to sonar have also been linked to strandings and mortality. Much of the research on the responses of beaked whales and other cetaceans to naval active sonar has occurred on or near U.S. naval training ranges, and the impacts of sonar in other regions remain poorly understood, particularly as these impacts, including mortality, are likely to go unobserved in offshore areas. In September 2016 the multinational naval exercise 'CUTLASS FURY 2016' (CF16) was conducted off eastern Canada. We used passive acoustic recordings collected in the region to quantify the occurrence and characteristics of sonar signals, measure ambient noise levels, and assess changes in the acoustic activity of beaked and sperm whales. The number of hours per day with echolocation clicks from Cuvier's beaked whales and sperm whales were significantly reduced during CF16, compared to the pre-exercise period in 2016 (sperm whales) and to control data from 2015 (both species). Clicks from an unidentified Mesoplodont beaked whale species, sporadically detected prior to CF16, were absent during the exercise and for 7 days afterward. These results suggest that beaked and sperm whales ceased foraging in the vicinity of CF16 and likely avoided the affected area. Such disturbance may have energetic, health, and fitness consequences.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions related to this work.

Joy Stanistreet

Joy Stanistreet, Ph.D.

Aquatic Science Biologist / Ocean and Ecosystem Sciences Division
Maritimes Region Fisheries and Oceans Canada / Government of Canada
joy.stanistreet at dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Biologiste des sciences aquatiques / Division des sciences de l'écosystème et de la mer
Région des maritimes Pêches et Océans Canada / Gouvernement du Canada
joy.stanistreet at dfo-mpo.gc.ca

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