Like sentinels at their posts, an array of buoys equipped with underwater microphones and other sensors will be on duty in the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of Massachusetts for the next 30 months, recording sounds from whales, fish, ships and other sources around the clock. NOAA marine mammal scientists will analyze the biological sounds to help develop a global monitoring network for ocean noise, an important step in effectively managing marine sanctuary resources and protecting endangered species like the North Atlantic right whale.
The ocean is a noisy place, said Sofie Van Parijs, marine mammal acoustician at NOAAs Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) and a project scientist. Its full of natural sounds and those from human activities, and there is substantial evidence that the level of man-made noise is rising. Marine mammals and many fishes are highly dependent on sound for communication, navigation, foraging and predator avoidance. We need to understand how these animals, especially endangered and protected species, are impacted by sounds from many sources to be able to better manage and protect these living resources.
An ocean-observing system consisting of ten autonomous recording units will be deployed for periods of three months, each in different parts of the Sanctuary at different times of the year, to monitor low frequency sounds. The passive-acoustic buoys, moored to the ocean floor and fully submerged, continually record ocean sounds around the clock before they pop to the surface on command so the data can be retrieved and batteries refreshed.
The three-year project began in late December with funding from the National Oceanographic Partnership Program and a team of scientists and engineers from NOAA Fisheries, NOAA Sanctuaries, the Bioacoustic Research Program at Cornell University and Marine Acoustics, Inc. Van Parijs and NEFSC colleague Denise Risch, also a marine mammal bioacoust
|Contact: Shelley Dawicki|
NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service