Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

Underwater detection of tonal signals between 0.125 and 100 kHz by harbor seals (Phoca vitulina)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

DOI

Author(s)

Ronald A. Kastelein, Paul J. Wensveen, Lean Hoek, Willem C. Verboom, John M. Terhune

School/Research organisations

Abstract

The underwater hearing sensitivities of two 1-year -old female harbor seals were quantified in a pool built for acoustic research, using a behavioral psychoacoustic technique. The animals were trained to respond when they detected an acoustic signal and not to respond when they did not (go/no-go response). Pure tones (0.125-0.25 kHz) and narrowband frequency modulated (tonal) signals (center frequencies 0.5-100 kHz) of 900 ms duration were tested. Thresholds at each frequency were measured using the up-down staircase method and defined as the stimulus level resulting in a 50% detection rate. The audiograms of the two seals did not differ statistically: both plots showed the typical mammalian U-shape, but with a wide and flat bottom. Maximum sensitivity (54 dB re 1 μPa, rms) occurred at 1 kHz. The frequency range of best hearing (within 10 dB of maximum sensitivity) was from 0.5 to 40 kHz (6 1 3 octaves). Higher hearing thresholds (indicating poorer sensitivity) were observed below 1 and above 40 kHz. Thresholds below 4 kHz were lower than those previously described for harbor seals, which demonstrates the importance of using quiet facilities, built specifically for acoustic research, for hearing studies in marine mammals. The results suggest that under unmasked conditions many anthropogenic noise sources and sounds from conspecifics are audible to harbor seals at greater ranges than formerly believed.

Close

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1222-1229
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Volume125
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2009

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by journal

  1. Predicting acoustic dose associated with marine mammal behavioural responses to sound as detected with fixed acoustic recorders and satellite tags

    von Benda-Beckmann, A. M., Wensveen, P. J., Prior, M., Ainslie, M. A., Hansen, R. R., Isojunno, S., Lam, F. P. A., Kvadsheim, P. H. & Miller, P. J. O., 20 Mar 2019, In : Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. 145, 3, p. 1401-1416 16 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Fin whale density and distribution estimation using acoustic bearings derived from sparse arrays

    Harris, D. V., Miksis-Olds, J. L., Vernon, J. A. & Thomas, L., May 2018, In : Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. 143, 5, p. 2980-2993 14 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Modelling the broadband propagation of marine mammal echolocation clicks for click-based population density estimates

    von Benda-Beckmann, A., Thomas, L. J., Tyack, P. L. & Ainslie, M., Feb 2018, In : Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. 143, 2, p. 954-967

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Two unit analysis of Sri Lankan pygmy blue whale song over a decade

    Miksis-Olds, J. L., Nieukirk, S. L. & Harris, D. V., 31 Dec 2018, In : Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. 144, 6, p. 3618-3626 9 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

ID: 245839088