Monitoring ship noise to assess the impact of coastal developments on marine mammals

TitleMonitoring ship noise to assess the impact of coastal developments on marine mammals
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsMerchant, ND, Pirotta, E, Barton, TR, Thompson, PM
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Pagination85 - 95
Date Published2014/01/15
ISBN Number0025-326X
KeywordsAcoustic disturbance, AIS data, Marine mammals, Renewable energy, Ship noise, Time-lapse

The potential impacts of underwater noise on marine mammals are widely recognised, but uncertainty over variability in baseline noise levels often constrains efforts to manage these impacts. This paper characterises natural and anthropogenic contributors to underwater noise at two sites in the Moray Firth Special Area of Conservation, an important marine mammal habitat that may be exposed to increased shipping activity from proposed offshore energy developments. We aimed to establish a pre-development baseline, and to develop ship noise monitoring methods using Automatic Identification System (AIS) and time-lapse video to record trends in noise levels and shipping activity. Our results detail the noise levels currently experienced by a locally protected bottlenose dolphin population, explore the relationship between broadband sound exposure levels and the indicators proposed in response to the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive, and provide a ship noise assessment toolkit which can be applied in other coastal marine environments.

Short TitleMarine Pollution Bulletin