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Resource Issues: Acoustic Impacts - How Sanctuaries Are Involved

How are Sanctuaries Involved?

picture of crews depolying a high frequency recording device or HARP
HARP deployment - high-frequency acoustic recording package
  • NOAA is developing an Ocean Noise Strategy that incorporates the importance of managing the “acoustic habitats” of marine animals in places such as National Marine Sanctuaries using a comprehensive, agency-wide approach. For more information please click here.
  • The Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS) recently formed an Ocean Noise Working Group, comprised of staff and experts from multiple National Marine Sanctuaries, to collaborate on system-wide projects including:
    • Involving multiple NMS sites in NOAA’s development of a network of noise monitoring stations (278K PDF) that will collect multiyear, continuous, and comparable data to establish baselines and detect changes across regions within the National Marine Sanctuary system.
    • Developing education and outreach products to relay information on Sanctuary Soundscapes to a variety of audiences, and they will be linked to a website with specific ONMS Sentinel site projects.
  • Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary (SBNMS) has been working to characterize this sanctuary’s soundscape and quantify loss of acoustic habitat for right whales with the growth of commercial shipping traffic. Noise related studies at this sanctuary have expanded to tackle questions connected to acoustic metrics as indicators of biodiversity, sounds and fish behavior, and using passive acoustic monitoring to protect spawning fish.
  • Grays Reef National Marine Sanctuary is currently conducting simple monitoring of sound in the sanctuary. Partnering with the University of Georgia, a hydrophone is deployed seasonally to develop a baseline of sound (natural and human-caused) to understand the sources of sound and potential impacts. In addition, the GRNMS Sanctuary Advisory Council sent a letter (135K PDF*) to ONMS Director Dan Basta requesting support for this and expanded projects.
  • Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council is interested in better understanding acoustic impacts in the sanctuary. Over the past year, the Sanctuary Advisory Council has received educational presentations on acoustic issues in the Sanctuary. Click here (2.1M PDF) for an example of a presentation by a NOAA Fisheries scientist on “Assessing and mitigating impacts of anthropogenic sound on marine mammals” in the MBNMS.
  • Researchers from institutions around Monterey Bay are collaborating on a new “Sanctuary Soundscape Project” that will integrate accelerometry acoustic tags with passive acoustic monitoring to improve our understanding of the acoustic environment in the MBNMS as well as whale abundance and distribution in the Sanctuary. Collaborators include Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, Naval Post Graduate School, Moss Landing Marine Labs, Hopkins Marine Station and MBNMS.
  • MBNMS addresses impacts from proposed short-term activities that are likely to affect sanctuary resources by working with proponents to reduce or eliminate predicted impacts. During the 1990’s, MBNMS was involved with developing methods to mitigate impacts associated with two large-scale active acoustic projects – one associated with oceanographic research (Acoustic Thermometry of Ocean Climate or “ATOC”) and the US Navy’s use of SURTASS Low Frequency Active Sonar (LFA). Due to concern over “persistent ensonification” of Sanctuary waters, the ATOC cable eventually moved out to Pioneer Canyon. For the LFA project, ONMS continues to work with the Navy to minimize risks to marine species due to military training activities. More recently in 2012, MBNMS worked with NOAA Fisheries and a number of partners on a proposal by the Pacific Gas and Electric Company to conduct high energy seismic surveys near the Diablo Canyon power plant, just south of MBNMS. Ultimately, the California Coastal Commission, primarily due to concerns regarding potential harm to marine wildlife, did not approve the survey.