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"Some people talk to animals. Not many listen though. That's the problem."

-A.A. Milne

Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary Passive Acoustic Research

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     A depiction of the predicted received levels (71-224 Hz, dB re 1μPa, scale far right) produced by calling right whales (small moving circles), large commercial ships (large moving circles) and wind-dependent background noise within the study area (boundaries of the SBNMS outlined in black) calculated every 10-min over a 9-hr period. This movie shows how right whales are masked by the passage of ships as they move into and out of the port of Boston.

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MARUs at Stellwagen


From 2006 to 2011, arrays of bottom-mounted Marine Autonomous Recording Units (MARUs) were deployed to continuously record low-frequency sound in the Sanctuary. Recordings from these units were analyzed for the presence of vocally-active baleen whales and fish species. MARU data were also combined with data from the US Coast Guard's Automatic Identification System (AIS) to calculate noise budget contributions from AIS-tracked vessels in the area. Ship and whale data are integrated to investigate the potential effects of vessel noise on the acoustic communication of marine mammals. Together with the National Park Service, these data are currently being used to develop tools for understanding long term changes in the 'soundscape' of the sanctuary.

This unique partnership between NOAA offices has produced a wealth of information and publications on the marine acoustic environment and is at the forefront of the development of NOAA's Ocean Noise Strategy, research on Atlantic cod and a NOAA wide effort to record long term ambient noise conditions now and into the future.

Partners: NOAA Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, Cornell University, National Park Service

Primary Funders: NOAA Ocean Acoustics Program

For more information, see also https://stellwagen.noaa.gov/science/passive_acoustics.html

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