[MARMAM] New Publication on Fin Whale Behavioral Response

Brandon Southall brandon.southall at sea-inc.net
Thu Jan 4 17:44:26 PST 2024


My co-authors and I would like to provide the following recent publication to all those interested. The Open Access paper is entitled “Behavioral responses of fin whales to military mid-frequency active sonar” and the citation, link for access, and abstract are provided below:

Southall, B. L., Allen, A. N., Calambokidis, J., Casey, C., DeRuiter, S. L., Fregosi, S., Friedlaender, A. S., Goldbogen, J. A., Harris, C. M., Hazen, E.L., Popov, V. and Stimpert, A. K. (2023). Behavioural responses of fin whales to military mid-frequency active sonar. Royal Society Open Science, 10(12), 231775.

Behavioural responses of fin whales to military mid-frequency active sonar | Royal Society Open Science<https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rsos.231775>

The effect of active sonars on marine mammal behavior is a topic of considerable interest and scientific investigation. Some whales, including the largest species (blue whales, Balaenoptera musculus), can be impacted by mid-frequency (1-10 kHz) military sonars. Here we apply complementary experimental methods to provide the first experimentally controlled measurements of behavioral responses to military sonar and similar stimuli for a related endangered species, fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus). Analytical methods include: (1) Principal Component Analysis paired with Generalized Additive Mixed Models; (2) Hidden Markov Models; and (3) structured expert elicitation using response severity metrics. These approaches provide complementary perspectives on the nature of potential changes within and across individuals. Behavioral changes were detected in five of 15 whales during controlled exposure experiments (CEEs) using mid-frequency active sonar (MFAS) or pseudorandom noise (PRN) of similar frequency, duration, and source and received level. No changes were detected during six control (no noise) sequences. Overall responses were more limited in occurrence, severity, and duration than in blue whales and were less dependent upon contextual aspects of exposure and more contingent upon exposure received level. Quantifying the factors influencing marine mammal responses to sonar is critical in assessing and mitigating future impacts.


Brandon Southall, Ph.D

President, Chief Scientist - Southall Environmental Associates, Inc.
Research Associate - UC Santa Cruz Institute of Marine Science
Adjunct Assistant Professor - Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University

Brandon.Southall at sea-inc.net
831.661.5177 (office)
831.332.8744 (cell)
9099 Soquel Dr., suite 8
Aptos CA 95003 USA

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