Peer Reviewed Publication
Journal of the Acoustical Society of America
Safety criteria for underwater low-frequency active sonar sounds produced during naval exercises are needed to protect harbor porpoise hearing. As a first step toward defining criteria, a porpoise was exposed to sequences consisting of series of 1-s, 1–2 kHz sonar down-sweeps without harmonics (as fatiguing noise) at various combinations of average received sound pressure levels (SPLs; 144–179 dB re 1 μPa), exposure durations (1.9–240 min), and duty cycles (5%–100%). Hearing thresholds were determined for a narrow-band frequency-swept sine wave centered at 1.5 kHz before exposure to the fatiguing noise, and at 1–4, 4–8, 8–12, 48, 96, 144, and 1400 min after exposure, to quantify temporary threshold shifts (TTSs) and recovery of hearing. Results show that the inter-pulse interval of the fatiguing noise is an important parameter in determining the magnitude of noise-induced TTS. For the reported range of exposure combinations (duration and SPL), the energy of the exposure (i.e., cumulative sound exposure level; SELcum) can be used to predict the induced TTS, if the inter-pulse interval is known. Exposures with equal SELcum but with different inter-pulse intervals do not result in the same induced TTS.
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