An experimental approach to evaluation of acoustic masking of beluga communication by ship noise

C. Erbe, D.M. Farmer

Abstract


Out of concern about the impact of industrial noise on marine mammal communication, the Canadian Coast Guard initiated a project to develop quantitative techniques for determining the degree of interference between various kinds of noise and marine mammal calls. Particular emphasis lies in the study of icebreaker noise. During a cruise in the Arctic Ocean, vocalizations of different animals, for example seals, humpback whales, killer whales and beluga whales, were recorded as well as icebreaker related ramming noise and bubbler noise. If the icebreaker rams an ice-ridge at full speed, it might crack the ice immediately or be lifted onto the ridge and crack it due to its weight. Also the ice might withstand the ramming such that the ship is stopped with its propeller still turning at full speed. The corresponding noise is a broadband signal consisting of short bursts of high intensities. Bubbler noise is generated when a ship passes through cracked ice and uses so-called bubblers along its sides that blow air at high pressure into the water in order to push ice debris away and leave a clean passage for the boat. The corresponding noise is a loud signal of long duration but narrow bandwidth

Keywords


acoustic noise; biocommunications; hearing; ships; underwater sound; acoustic masking; ship noise; icebreaker; beluga whales; ramming noise; bubbler noise; broadband signal

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