Whale-watch vessel noise levels
With application to whale-watching guidelines and conservation
The work is the result of the joint effort of researchers from the University of La Laguna (Spain), Aarhus University (Denmark) and Murdoch University (Australia) as well as the collaborating tour operators from Exmouth, Australia and Tenerife, Canary Islands.
Authors: Patricia Arranz, Natacha de Soto, Peter T. Madsen, Kate R. Sprogis.
The number and size of whale-watching and swim-with-cetacean vessels are increasing worldwide, but the noise impact on targeted species depends on vessel source characteristics and levels, which remain largely unquantified. Here, we report the acoustic characteristics from 13 whale-watching vessels from Australia and Canary Islands to inform a discussion of emission standards for this growing industry.
We show that the noise source levels from commercial tour vessels can vary by >20 dB, and we highlight that a vessel with third octave source levels <120 dB re 1µPa >100 m away from targeted cetaceans will generally not increase ambient noise levels at their location resulting in a very low risk of impacts on behaviour and masking communication. To strive towards these low impact standards we recommend that vessels comply with a broadband source level (0.2–10 kHz) <150 dB re 1 µPa (RMS) when they are within 500 m of the cetaceans.
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