The high under-water sound pressure levels (SPLs) produced during pile driving to build offshore wind turbines may affect harbor porpoises. To estimate the discomfort threshold of pile driving sounds, a porpoise in a quiet pool was exposed to playbacks (46 strikes/min) at five SPLs (6 dB steps: 130-154 dB re 1 mu Pa). The spectrum of the impulsive sound resembled the spectrum of pile driving sound at tens of kilometers from the pile driving location in shallow water such as that found in the North Sea. The animal's behavior during test and baseline periods was compared. At and above a received broadband SPL of 136 dB re 1 mu Pa [zero-peak sound pressure level: 151 dB re 1 mu Pa; t(90): 126 ms; sound exposure level of a single strike (SELss): 127 dB re I mu Pa-2 s] the porpoise's respiration rate increased in response to the pile driving sounds. At higher levels, he also jumped out of the water more often. Wild porpoises are expected to move tens of kilometers away from offshore pile driving locations; response distances will vary with context, the sounds' source level, parameters influencing sound propagation, and background noise levels.
Behavioral Responses of a Harbor Porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) to Playbacks of Broadband Pile Driving Sounds
Title: Behavioral Responses of a Harbor Porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) to Playbacks of Broadband Pile Driving Sounds
December 01, 2013
Journal: Marine Environmental Research
Kastelein, R.; van Heerden, D.; Gransier, R.; Hoek, L. (2013). Behavioral Responses of a Harbor Porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) to Playbacks of Broadband Pile Driving Sounds. Marine Environmental Research, 92, 206-214.