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Researchers develop simulation to better understand the effects of sound on marine life
Date:8/31/2010

A combination of the biology of marine mammals, mechanical vibrations and acoustics has led to a breakthrough discovery allowing scientists to better understand the potential harmful effects of sound on marine mammals such as whales and dolphins.

An international team of researchers from UC San Diego, San Diego State University and the Kolmrden Zoo in Sweden has developed an approach that integrates advanced computing, X-ray CT scanners, and modern computational methods that give a 3D simulated look inside the head of a Cuvier's beaked whale.

"Our numerical analysis software can be used to conduct basic research into the mechanism of sound production and hearing in these whales, simulate exposure at sound pressure levels that would be impossible on live animals, or assess various mitigation strategies," said Petr Krysl, a UC San Diego structural engineering professor who developed the computational methods for this research. "We believe that our research can enable us to understand, and eventually reduce, the potential negative effects of high intensity sound on marine organisms."

The results of this research were recently published in a PLoS ONE article entitled, "A New Acoustic Portal into the Odontocete Ear and Vibrational Analysis of the Tympanoperiotic Complex" by Krysl , Ted W. Cranford, an adjunct professor of research in biology at San Diego State University, and Mats Amundin, a researcher at Sweden's Kolmrden Zoo. Sponsors of the research including the research include the office of the Chief of NavalOperations (CNO), Environmental Readiness Division.

The model the researchers have developed creates a 3-dimensional virtual environment in which they can simulate sounds propagated through the virtual specimen and reveal the interactions between the sound and the anatomy. By having a virtual "peek" inside the whale's head, the scientists are able to better understand and see how sound may impact or potential
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Contact: Andrea Siedsma
asiedsma@soe.ucsd.edu
858-822-0899
University of California - San Diego
Source:Eurekalert  

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