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A BBVA Foundation project comes up with a system enabling detection of cetacean hearing loss
Date:12/17/2008

red through the top of the skull. When an animal hears a sound, its brain registers this vibration through an electrical impulse that can be detected with simple suction cup electrodes. These electrical pulses are called auditory evoked potentials or auditory brainstem responses (ABR), and incorporate a short latency time and duration. In the case of a rehabilitating stranded cetacean, this hearing analysis is vital in order to determine whether it can correctly use its biosonar system and thus evaluate its survival chances on release.

ELUCIDATING THE SPERM WHALE SONAR AND ITS DETECTION POWERS

Cetacean hearing systems are characterized by a series of unique morphological adaptations allowing them to pick up frequencies that their auditory channels translate into accurate acoustic images. At the same time, by measuring the ear's sensitivity to certain frequencies we can gauge the physical and pathological state of an individual's auditory system and thereby its acoustic ability to negotiate its habitat.

The diversity of sound signals - there are around eighty cetacean species, every one with a rich acoustic repertoire - complicates the task of extracting the key components that determine the survival of an individual or a population, and is a constraint on our ability to estimate the effects of contaminating sound sources.

The BBVA Foundation project coordinated by Michel Andr has developed analysis models for the sound signal sequences that sperm whales emit while foraging in the ocean deeps, which conclude that this marine mammal is capable of detecting a 25 cm squid at a distance of more than two kilometers by means of the repeat emission of sonar clicks. But the presence of intrusive, man-made sound sources can impair this capacity, potentially disrupting the species in its feeding activities occupying 80% of its time since its ingestion needs are a ton per day and destabilizing the entire food chain.

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Contact: Javier Fernandez
comunicacion@fbbva.es
34-913-746-615
Fundacin BBVA
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2 3

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