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

species making up the cetacean order has its own acoustic repertoire directly related to the habitat where it has evolved over the course of millions of years. In order to detect their prey, coastal species must be able to accurately trace the outline and details of short-range features, while the absence of such features in the high seas means the cetaceans that inhabit them (pelagic species) have more need of medium- and long-range data on the presence of fish schools. However, all odontocetes or toothed cetaceans share the same method of sound production, which includes the passage of air though their nasal conducts and its expulsion by specialized tissues known as phonic lips located in the upper part of the head. While the mammal is immersed, this air is recycled and allows them to vocalize for the purpose of social communication or echolocation, depending on the need at hand.

The absence of vocal chords is accompanied by another trait unique among the mammals: that of not using an external auditory conduct for the purposes of hearing. Instead, they pick up sound waves through their jaws which transmit the information directly to the middle or inner ear where it is processed then relayed to the brain.

The work of the BBVA Foundation project team will help develop bioindicators of the damage caused by human-produced noise in the marine environment, as a first step to combating this pollution source and establishing a balance between the conduct of human activities and the conservation of marine mammals.


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

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