From the UNH CCOM/JHC Seminar Series 2009-2010: Dr. Leila Hatch, a Marine Ecologist at the Gerry E. Studds Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary (SBNMS), presents, "Underwater Noise in the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary." The talk was given on Friday, April 16, 2010 at UNH's Chase Ocean Engineering Laboratory.

Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary (SBNMS) is home to many vocally-active marine species that are protected and/or managed under multiple US statutes. Placed right in the middle of Massachusetts Bay, the sanctuary is also a busy place for human commerce and recreation, both of which contribute noise to the area’s underwater acoustic environment or “soundscape.” Meeting protection and management objectives in the SBNMS thus necessitates identifying contributors to the sanctuary’s soundscape and evaluating their possible effects on marine animal behavior.

This talk will introduce the partnerships, technologies, and methodologies being utilized in the SBNMS to meet NOAA’s mandates, and will present results from ongoing passive acoustic (listening-based) research and mitigation programs. Low frequency acoustic data, collected and analyzed by researchers from SBNMS, NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center and Cornell University are being used to address multiple questions regarding the locations and behaviors of vocally-active species in the sanctuary. Ship tracking data, collected and analyzed by the SBNMS, the University of New Hampshire’s Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping and the US Coast Guard, are being used to characterize patterns of large commercial traffic in the sanctuary. Acoustic data are integrated with vessel tracking data from a variety of sources to calculate the contributions of different types of vessels to the sanctuary’s soundscape, and to investigate the potential for vessel noise to mask animal sounds. Finally, both archival and real-time passive acoustic tools are being applied in the SBNMS in new ways to mitigate and monitor impacts to sanctuary resources.

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