Addressing Challenges in Studies of Behavioral Responses of Whales to Noise
Studying the behavioral response of whales to noise presents numerous challenges. In addition to the characteristics of the noise exposure, many factors may affect the response and these must be measured and accounted for in the analysis. An adequate sample size that includes matching controls is crucial if meaningful results are to be obtained. Field work is thus complicated, logistically difficult, and expensive. This paper discusses some of the challenges and how they are being met in a large-scale multiplatform project in which humpback whales are exposed to the noise of seismic air guns.
KeywordsBehavioral response Underwater noise Impacts of noise Whales Seismic
We thank the many people who contributed to the Behavioural Response of Australian Humpback whales to Seismic Surveys (BRAHSS) project and took part in the experiments. More than 70 people were involved in the experiments (see www.BRAHSS.org.au for all names). Anne Goldizen provided advice on studying animal behavior and Simon Blomberg provided advice on the statistical modeling. Michael Williamson and Chandra Salgado Kent also contributed. Geokinetics, Inc. (Brisbane, Australia), provided and operated the air gun array for the second experiment. The BRAHSS project is funded by the Joint Industry Programme on Exploration & Production (E&P) Sound and Marine Life (JIP) and the United States Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM). The JIP is managed by the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (OGP). The Joint Industry Sponsors are ExxonMobil, Chevron, Eni, Statoil, ConocoPhillips, BG Group, BHP Billiton, Santos, Woodside, and the International Association of Geophysical Contractors. Additional sponsors are Origin Energy, Beach Energy, and AWE Ltd.
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