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Shipping noise in a dynamic sea: a case study of grey seals in the Celtic Sea

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Abstract

Shipping noise is a threat to marine wildlife. Grey seals are benthic foragers, and thus experience acoustic noise throughout the water column, which makes them a good model species for a case study of the potential impacts of shipping noise. We used ship track data from the Celtic Sea, seal track data and a coupled ocean-acoustic modelling system to assess the noise exposure of grey seals along their tracks. It was found that the animals experience step changes in sound levels up to ~ 20 dB at a frequency of 125 Hz, and ~ 10 dB on average over 10–1000 Hz when they dive through the thermocline, particularly during summer. Our results showed large seasonal differences in the noise level experienced by the seals. These results reveal the actual noise exposure by the animals and could help in marine spatial planning.
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)372-383
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Volume114
Issue number1
Early online date24 Sep 2016
DOIs
StatePublished - 15 Jan 2017

    Research areas

  • Anthropogenic noise, Marine animals, Sound propagation, Acoustic modelling, Ocean fronts

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