SHUSH Presentation: prediction of marine mammal auditory impact

Ocean Science Consulting Limited (OSC) was delighted to present at the Symposium on High Underwater Sounds from Humans (SHUSH) conference, an exciting virtual event, jointly organised by Sorbonne University and Ocean Ambassadors. This free symposium was created to bring together marine scientists, students, and professionals from a range of governmental, NGO, and research institutes across the world, to share new research on underwater noise, and how we can reduce its impacts on marine life. As anthropogenic noise continues to increase in marine environments, it is essential that we work towards effective noise management and mitigation solutions to protect marine mammals and other wildlife. As an industry leader, OSC is proud to share its research in this field, and was joined at the conference by many other renowned experts, such as Dr Brandon Southall from SEA, Inc. In total, the SHUSH line-up boasted key speakers from 14 different organisations, including OSC, who each shared their insightful, and timely research on underwater noise. 

Dr Laura Williamson, OSC’s Senior Analyst, was invited to showcase some of our recent work, in a talk titled: ‘Prediction of marine mammal auditory impact’. This presentation covered the findings from a study we conducted for NatureScot (published in Marine Pollution Bulletin here).

Acoustic Deterrent Devices (ADDs) are used by aquaculture to deter seals from predating on fish farms; however, sounds these devices produce may cause temporary, or even permanent hearing damage in other marine mammals, including harbour porpoise. To investigate this, OSC modelled acoustic propagation of ADD noise at hypothetical fish farms in Scotland and predicted potential impact these sounds may have on marine mammals in the area. Results suggested that harbour porpoise may experience acoustic disturbance over quite wide areas. This study and others like it here and here, suggest underwater noise from ADDs may cause disturbance, and pose a potential threat to marine wildlife. Estimates of range and intensity of underwater noise can be used to inform marine planning and mitigation measures required to mitigate potential harmful impacts. 

Overall, the conference was a great success, with 350 attendees and, crucially, lots of discussion on how best to safeguard the marine environment from anthropogenic noise. Events like SHUSH are vital for sharing ideas, latest research, and industry recommendations between stakeholders, and OSC is unique in that we work with both industry bodies and researchers to minimise acoustic risk to marine mammals. The whole OSC team is grateful for the opportunity to present at SHUSH, and would like to thank Ocean Ambassadors, Sorbonne University and everyone involved for ensuring its success. If you missed out, make sure to catch up on all the presentations here, and we can’t wait to see you again at future events! 

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