Development of a Model to Assess Masking Potential for Marine Mammals by the Use of Air Guns in Antarctic Waters
We estimated the long-range effects of air gun array noise on marine mammal communication ranges in the Southern Ocean. Air gun impulses are subject to significant distortion during propagation, potentially resulting in a quasi-continuous sound. Propagation modeling to estimate the received waveform was conducted. A leaky integrator was used as a hearing model to assess communication masking in three species due to intermittent/continuous air gun sounds. Air gun noise is most probably changing from impulse to continuous noise between 1,000 and 2,000 km from the source, leading to a reduced communication range for, e.g., blue and fin whales up to 2,000 km from the source.
KeywordsMysticetes Pinnipeds Seismic Propagation modeling
The study was funded and supported by German Federal Environment Agency (UBA) Project No. 3711 19 121. We thank Ana Širović and Flore Samaran for providing the vocalizations. We are also indebted to Sina Danehl, Ole Meyer-Klaeden, and Abbo van Neer for contributions to the study.
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