ESR 34:397-415 (2017)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00857

Predicting the acoustic exposure of humpback whales from cruise and tour vessel noise in Glacier Bay, Alaska, under different management strategies

Adam S. Frankel1,2,*, Christine M. Gabriele3

1Marine Acoustics, Incorporated, 4350 N Fairfax Drive, Suite 600, Arlington, VA 22203, USA
2Hawai‘i Marine Mammal Consortium, PO Box 6107, Kamuela, HI 96743, USA
3National Park Service, Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve, PO Box 140, Gustavus, AK 99826, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Vessel traffic management regimes intended to protect baleen whales can have unexpected consequences on whale exposure to underwater noise. Using the Acoustic Integration Model, we simulated whale and vessel movements in Glacier Bay National Park (GBNP). We estimated vessel noise exposures to humpback whales Megaptera novaeangliae while varying the number, speed (13 vs. 20 knots [kn]), and timing of cruise ships, and keeping a constant number, speed, and timing of smaller tour vessels. Using calibrated noise signatures for each vessel and the known sound velocity profile and bathymetry of Glacier Bay, we estimated received sound levels for each simulated whale every 15 s in a 24 h period. Simulations with fast ships produced the highest maximal sound pressure level (MSPL) and cumulative sound exposure levels (CSEL). Ships travelling at 13 kn produced CSEL levels 3 times lower than those traveling at 20 kn. We demonstrated that even in cases where a ship is only a few dB quieter at a slower speed, CSEL is lower, but the ship’s transit may take substantially longer. Synchronizing ship arrival times had little effect on CSEL or MSPL but appreciably decreased cumulative sound exposure time (CSET). Overall, our results suggest that the most effective way to reduce humpback whale acoustic exposure in GBNP is to reduce the numbers of cruise ships or their speed, although adjusting ship schedules may also be beneficial. Marine protected area managers may find these results illustrative or adapt these methods to better understand the acoustic effects of specific vessel management circumstances.


KEY WORDS: Acoustic propagation · Vessel noise · Chronic exposure · Management · Cumulative effects · Marine Protected Area


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Cite this article as: Frankel AS, Gabriele CM (2017) Predicting the acoustic exposure of humpback whales from cruise and tour vessel noise in Glacier Bay, Alaska, under different management strategies. Endang Species Res 34:397-415. https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00857

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