Wildlife Research Wildlife Research Society
Ecology, management and conservation in natural and modified habitats
RESEARCH ARTICLE

An assessment of the audibility of sound from human transport by breeding Weddell seals (Leptonychotes weddellii)

Tamara D. van Polanen Petel A D , John M. Terhune B , Mark A. Hindell A and Melissa A. Giese C
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A School of Zoology, University of Tasmania, PO Box 252-05, Tas. 7001, Australia.

B Centre for Coastal Studies and Aquaculture, University of New Brunswick, PO Box 5050, Saint John, New Brunswick, E2L 4L5, Canada.

C Human Impacts Research Program, Australian Antarctic Division, Channel Highway, Tas. 7050, Australia.

D Corresponding author. Email: tdvan@postoffice.utas.edu.au

Wildlife Research 33(4) 275-291 https://doi.org/10.1071/WR05001
Submitted: 5 January 2005  Accepted: 3 February 2006   Published: 27 June 2006

Abstract

Anthropogenic noise generated through travel in the Antarctic has the potential to affect the region’s wildlife. Weddell seals (Leptonychotes weddellii) in particular can be exposed to anthropogenic noise because they live under, and breed on, the fast ice on which humans travel. To investigate the potential effects of anthropogenic noise on Weddell seals we developed sound profiles for pedestrian travel, over-snow vehicles, aircraft and watercraft operating at various distances and altitudes from breeding seals. The received 1/3-octave noise levels were then related to an assumed detection threshold for the Weddell seal. We found that most noise levels generated by the pedestrian, quad (4-wheeled, all-terrain vehicle) and Hagglunds (tracked, all-terrain vehicle) were commonly categorised in the inaudible and barely audible range of detection (both in-air and underwater), while noise levels generated by the helicopter, Twin Otter aircraft and Zodiac boat were categorised more commonly in the barely audible and clearly audible range. Experimental underwater recordings of vocal behaviour of Weddell seals exposed to continuous low-amplitude over-snow vehicle noise (i.e. Hagglund operation) were also made. Weddell seals underwater did not alter individual call types in response to low-level Hagglunds noise, but they did decrease their calling rate.


Acknowledgments

We thank Sarah Brown, Kate Bodley and Marjolein van Polanen Petel and other members of the 54th and 55th ANARE expeditions to Casey Station and Davis Station. We also thank the Australian Antarctic Division for providing the geographic data for the maps used (Fig. 1). The study was conducted with permission from the Australian Antarctic Animal Ethics Committee, Australian Antarctic Division and the Animal Ethics Committee of the University of Tasmania. The Australian Antarctic Division, Sea World Research and Rescue Foundation, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada and the University of Tasmania supported fieldwork and data analysis. Additional funding was given to TDvPP from the Australian Government through an Australian Postgraduate Award and from the Sustainable Tourism Cooperative Research Centre.


References

AAD (2004a). ‘Australian Antarctic Division Field Manual 2004/05.’ (Australian Antarctic Division: Kingston, Tasmania)

AAD (2004b). Australian Antarctic Division website http://www.aad.gov.au/default.asp?casid=3805

Blane, J. M. , and Jaakson, R. (1994). The impact of ecotourism boats on the St Lawrence beluga whales. Environmental Conservation 21, 267–269.


Borg, E. (1981 ). Physiological and pathogenic effects of sound. Acta Oto-Laryngologica 381(Suppl.), 7–68.


Born, E. W. , Riget, F. F. , Dietz, R. , and Andriashek, D. (1999). Escape responses of hauled out ringed seals (Phoca hispida) to aircraft disturbance. Polar Biology 21, 171–178.
CrossRef |

Bowles A. E. (1995). Responses of wildlife to noise. In ‘Wildlife and Recreationists Coexistence Through Management and Research’. (Eds R. L. Knight and K. J. Gutzwiller.) pp. 109–156. (Island Press: Washington, DC.)

Burton, H. R. , and van den Hoff, J. (2002). Humans and the southern elephant seal Mirounga leonina. Australian Mammalogy 24, 127–139.


Caruthers W. W. (1977). ‘Fundamentals of Marine Acoustics.’ (Elsevier: New York.)

Cooper, J. , Avenant, N. L. , and Lafite, P. W. (1994). Airdrops and king penguins: a potential conservation problem at sub-antarctic Marion Island. Polar Record 30, 277–282.


Culik B., Adelung D., and Woakes A. J. (1990). The effects of disturbance on the heart rate and behaviour of Adélie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae) during the breeding season. In ‘Antarctica Ecosystems. Ecological Change and Conservation’. (Eds K. R. Kerry and G. Hempel.) pp. 177–182. (Springer-Verlag: Berlin.)

Evans W. E., Thomas J. A., and Davis R. W. (2004). Vocalisations from Weddell seals (Leptonychotes weddellii) during diving and foraging. In ‘Echolocation in Bats and Dolphins’. (Eds J. A. Thomas, C. F. Moss and M. Vater.) pp. 541–547. (University of Chicago Press: Chicago, IL.)

Fidell, S. , Pearsons, K. , Grignetti, M. , and Green, D. (1970). The noisiness of impulsive sounds. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 48, 1304–1310.
CrossRef |

Foote, A. D. , Osborne, R. W. , and Hoelzel, A. R. (2004). Whale-call response to masking boat noise.  Nature 428, 910.
CrossRef | PubMed |

Giese, M. , and Riddle, M. (1999). Disturbance of emperor penguin Aptenodytes forsteri chicks by helicopters. Polar Biology 22, 366–371.
CrossRef |

Green, K. , and Burton, H. R. (1988). Annual and diurnal variations in the underwater vocalizations of Weddell seals. Polar Biology 8, 161–164.
CrossRef |

Henry, E. , and Hammill, M. O. (2001). Impact of small boats on the haul-out activity of harbour seals (Phoca vitulina) in Metis Bay, Saint Lawrence Estuary, Quebec, Canada. Aquatic Mammals 27, 140–148.


Hirsch  I. J. (1952). ‘The Measurement of Hearing.’ (McGraw-Hill Inc.: Toronto.)

IAATO (2004). International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators home page http://www.iaato.org/wildlife.html

Kastak, D. , and Schusterman, R. J. (1998). Low-frequency amphibious hearing in pinnipeds: methods measurements, noise, and ecology. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 103, 2216–2228.
CrossRef | PubMed |

Kimball L. A. (1999). The Antarctic Treaty systems. In ‘Conservation and Management of Marine Mammals’. (Eds J. R. Twiss Jr and R. Reeves.) pp. 199–223. (Melbourne University Press: Melbourne.)

Kooyman G. L. (1981). Weddell seal Leptonychotes weddelli. In ‘Handbook of Marine Mammals’. (Eds S. H. Ridgway and R. J.Harrison.) (Academic Press: London.)

Lesage, V. , Barrette, C. , Kingsley, M. C. S. , and Sjare, B. (1999). The effect of vessel noise on the vocal behaviour of belugas in the St Lawrence River estuary, Canada. Marine Mammal Science 15, 65–84.


McCauley R. D., and Cato D. H. (2003). Acoustics and marine mammals: introduction, importance, threats and potential as a research tool. In ‘Marine Mammals, Fisheries, Tourism & Management Issues’. (Eds N. Gales, M. Hindell and R. Kirkwood.) pp. 344–365. (CSIRO: Melbourne.)

Mohl, B. (1968). Auditory sensitivity of the common seal in air and water. Journal of Auditory Research 8, 27–38.


Morton, A. B. , and Symonds, H. K. (2002). Displacement of Orcinus orca (L.) by high amplitude sound in British Columbia, Canada. ICES Journal of Marine Science 59, 71–80.
CrossRef |

Myrberg, A. A. J. (1990). The effects of man-made noise on the behavior of marine animals. Environment International 16, 575–586.
CrossRef |

National Research Council (2003). ‘Ocean Noise and Marine Mammals.’ (The National Academies Press: Washington, DC.)

Pahl, B. C. , Terhune, J. M. , and Burton, H. R. (1997). Repertoire and geographic variation in underwater vocalisations of Weddell seals (Leptonychotes weddellii, Pinnipedia: Phocidae) at the Vestfold Hills, Antarctica. Australian Journal of Zoology 45, 171–187.
CrossRef |

Ray, C. , and deCamp, M. A. (1969). Watching seals at Turtle Rock. Natural History 78, 26–35.


Richardson, W. J. , and Würsig, B. (1997). Influences of made-made noise and other human actions on cetacean behaviour. Marine and Freshwater Behavioural Physiology 29, 183–209.


Richardson W. J., Greene C. R. J., Malme C., and Thomson D. H. (1995). ‘Marine Mammals and Noise.’ (Academic Press: San Diego, CA.)

Scarpaci, C. , Bigger, S. W. , Corkeron, P. J. , and Nugegoda, D. (2000). Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) increase whistling in the presence of ‘swim-with-dolphin’ tour operations. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management 2, 183–185.


Schevill W. E., and Watkins W. A. (1971). Directionality of the sound beam in Leptonychotes weddelli (Mammalia: Pinnipedia). In ‘Antarctic Research Series’. (Ed. W. H Burt.) pp. 163–168. (American Geophysical Union: Washington, DC.)

Serrano, A. , and Terhune, J. M. (2001). Within-call repetition may be an anti-masking strategy in underwater calls of harp seals (Pagophilus groenlandicus). Canadian Journal of Zoology 79, 1410–1413.
CrossRef |

Serrano, A. , and Terhune, J. M. (2002). Antimasking aspects of harp seal (Pagophilus groenlandicus) underwater vocalisations. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 112, 3083–3090.
CrossRef | PubMed |

Siniff, D. B. , DeMaster, D. P. , Hofman, J. R. , and Eberhardt, L. L. (1977). An analysis of the dynamics of a Weddell seal population. Ecological Monographs 47, 319–335.
CrossRef |

Terhune, J. M. (1988). Detection thresholds of a harbor seal to repeated underwater high-frequency, short-duration, sinusoidal pulses. Canadian Journal of Zoology 66, 1578–1582.


Terhune, J. M. (1991). Masked and unmasked pure tone detection thresholds of a harbor seal listening in air. Canadian Journal of Zoology 69, 2059–2066.


Terhune, J. M. (2004). Through-ice communication by Weddell seals may not be practicable. Polar Biology 27, 810–812.
CrossRef |

Terhune, J. M. , and Ronald, K. (1971). The harp seal, Pagophilus groenlandicus (Erxleben, 1777). X. The air audiogram. Canadian Journal of Zoology 49, 385–390.
PubMed |

Terhune, J. M. , and Ronald, K. (1972). The harp seal, Pagophilus groenlandicus (Erxleben, 1777). III. The underwater audiogram. Canadian Journal of Zoology 50, 565–569.
PubMed |

Terhune, J. M. , and Ronald, K. (1975). Underwater hearing sensitivity of two ringed seals (Phoca hispida). Canadian Journal of Zoology 53, 227–231.
PubMed |

Terhune J. M., and Turnbul,l S. (1995). Variation in the psychometric functions and hearing thresholds of a harbour seal. In ‘Sensory Systems of Aquatic Mammals’. (Eds R. A. Kastelein, J. A. Thomas and P. E. Nachtigall.) pp. 81–93. (De Spil Publishers: Woerden, The Netherlands.)

Terhune, J. M. , Stewart, R. E. A. , and Ronald, K. (1979). Influence of vessel noises on underwater vocal activity of harp seals. Canadian Journal of Zoology 57, 1337–1338.


Terhune, J. M. , Grandmaitre, N. C. , Burton, H. R. , and Green, K. (1994). Weddell seals lengthen many underwater calls in response to conspecific vocalizations. Bioacoustics 5, 223–226.


Thomas, J. A. , and Kuechle, V. B. (1982). Quantitative analysis of Weddell seal (Leptonychotes weddelli) underwater vocalizations at McMurdo Sound, Antarctica. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 72, 1730–1738.
CrossRef | PubMed |

van Parijs, S. M. , and Corkeron, P. J. (2001). Boat traffic affects the acoustic behavior of Pacific humpback dolphins, Sousa chinensis. Journal of the Marine Biological Association 81, 533–538.


Watkins, W. A. (1986). Whales reactions to human activities in Cape Cod waters. Marine Mammal Science 2, 251–262.


Watkins, W. A. , and Schevill, W. E. (1979). Distinctive characteristics of underwater calls of the harp seal, Phoca groenlandica, during the breeding season. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 66, 983–988.
CrossRef |

Wilson, R. P. , Culik, B. , Danfeld, R. , and Adelung, D. (1991). People in Antarctica – how much do Adélie penguins Pygoscelis adeliae care? Polar Biology 11, 363–370.
CrossRef |

Wolski, L. F. , Anderson, R. C. , Bowles, A. E. , and Yochem, P. K. (2003). Measuring hearing in the harbor seal (Phoca vitulina): comparison of behavioural and auditory brainstem response techniques. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 113, 629–637.
CrossRef | PubMed |



Rent Article (via Deepdyve) Export Citation Cited By (10)