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Endangered Species Research

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ESR 54:311-329 (2024)  -  DOI:

Underwater soundscapes within critical habitats of the endangered Hawaiian monk seal: implications for conservation

Kirby Parnell1,*, Karlina Merkens2, Chloé Huetz3, Isabelle Charrier3, Stacie J. Robinson4, Aude Pacini1, Lars Bejder1,5

1Marine Mammal Research Program, Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, 46-007 Lilipuna Rd, Kāne‘ohe, HI 96744, USA
2Saltwater Inc., Portland, OR, in support of NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, Honolulu, HI 96818, USA
3Université Paris-Saclay, CNRS, UMR 9197, Institut des Neurosciences Paris-Saclay, Saclay 91400, France
4Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service, Honolulu, HI 96818, USA
5Zoophysiology, Department of Bioscience, Aarhus University, Aarhus 8000, Denmark
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Studying underwater soundscapes of critical habitats of marine mammals can provide valuable information on the acoustic environment utilized by sound-reliant animals. For the endangered Hawaiian monk seal Neomonachus schauinslandi (HMS), the acoustic scene of their aquatic habitats is poorly understood. We measured ambient noise levels and characterized sound sources at 4 shallow critical habitats of the HMS. Broadband levels ranged from 107.8-123.4 dB re 1 µPa. Octave band levels showed diel patterns associated with biological and anthropogenic sources that mask HMS vocalizations. Biological sources dominated the soundscape at all sites. We opportunistically recorded 2 large-scale geophonic events: Hurricane Douglas (Category 4) and a 6.2 magnitude earthquake. This study provides the first description of underwater soundscapes at critical habitats of the HMS across its expansive range. These measurements serve as a baseline for future studies to understand the impacts of human activities on underwater soundscapes.

KEY WORDS: Acoustics · Vocalizations · Marine mammals · Geophony · Anthropogenic noise · Hawaiian monk seal

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Cite this article as: Parnell K, Merkens K, Huetz C, Charrier I, Robinson SJ, Pacini A, Bejder L (2024) Underwater soundscapes within critical habitats of the endangered Hawaiian monk seal: implications for conservation. Endang Species Res 54:311-329.

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