ESR 30:171-186 (2016)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00722

Can you hear me here? Managing acoustic habitat in US waters

Leila T. Hatch1,*, Charles M. Wahle2, Jason Gedamke3, Jolie Harrison4, Benjamin Laws4, Sue E. Moore5, John H. Stadler6, Sofie M. Van Parijs7

1Gerry E. Studds Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, 175 Edward Foster Road, Scituate, MA 02066, USA
2National Marine Protected Areas Center, NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, 99 Pacific Street, Suite 100-F, Monterey, CA 93940, USA
3Office of Science and Technology, NOAA Fisheries, 1315 East West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910, USA
4Office of Protected Resources, NOAA Fisheries, 1315 East West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910, USA
5Office of Science and Technology, NOAA Fisheries, 7600 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115, USA
6Oregon-Washington Coastal Area Office, West Coast Region, NOAA Fisheries, 510 Desmond Dr SE, Lacey, WA 98503, USA
7Northeast Fisheries Science Center, NOAA Fisheries, 166 Water Street, Woods Hole, MA 02543, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Many marine animals have evolved over millions of years to rely on sound as a fundamental component of their habitat. Over the last century, increasing noise from human activities has significantly affected the quality of underwater acoustic habitats. These changes can lead to reduced ability to detect and interpret environmental cues used to perform critical life functions (e.g. select mates, find food, maintain group structure and relationships, avoid predators, navigate). The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), as the US federal agency with primary responsibility for protecting marine animals and their habitats, is developing an agency-wide strategy that emphasizes the ocean spaces that these animals need, and the importance of acoustic conditions in those places. This strategy seeks to reach beyond initial goals of reducing acute impacts due to noise (protecting hearing and reducing physical harm) to better account for the importance of underwater sound in marine ecosystems. This paper outlines science needs associated with acoustic habitat characterization and the assessment of noise impacts on habitats, which provide information critical to NOAA’s prioritization of future place-based research and management. NOAA’s spatial management tools are examined relative to acoustic habitat protection goals, which seek to match the ecological scales over which noise is impacting marine wildlife, including endangered species. Recommended actions are identified to address these broad spatial and long temporal scales, including international work on quieting technologies, registries of accumulated noisy events, and an enhanced role for NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuaries in science, management, and outreach associated with acoustic habitat protection.


KEY WORDS: Habitat · Marine · Acoustic · Protected areas · Soundscape


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Cite this article as: Hatch LT, Wahle CM, Gedamke J, Harrison J and others (2016) Can you hear me here? Managing acoustic habitat in US waters. Endang Species Res 30:171-186. https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00722

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