Peer Reviewed Publication
Journal of the Acoustical Society of America
Safety criteria for mid-frequency naval sonar sounds are needed to protect harbor porpoise hearing. A porpoise was exposed to sequences of one-second 6–7 kHz sonar down-sweeps, with 10–200 sweeps in a sequence, at an average received sound pressure level (SPLav.re.) of 166 dB re 1 μPa, with duty cycles of 10% (intermittent sounds) and 100% (continuous). Behavioral hearing thresholds at 9.2 kHz were determined before and after exposure to the fatiguing noise, to quantify temporary hearing threshold shifts (TTS1–4 min) and recovery. Significant TTS1–4 min occurred after 10–25 sweeps when the duty cycle was 10% (cumulative sound exposure level, SELcum: ∼178 dB re 1 μPa2s). For the same SELcum, the TTS1–4 min was greater for exposures with 100% duty cycle. The difference in TTS between the two duty cycle exposures increased as the number of sweeps in the exposure sequences increased. Therefore, to predict TTS and permanent threshold shift, not only SELcum needs to be known, but also the duty cycle or equivalent sound pressure level (Leq). It appears that the injury criterion for non-pulses proposed by Southall, Bowles, Ellison, Finneran, Gentry, Greene, Kastak, Ketten, Miller, Nachtigall, Richardson, Thomas, and Tyack [(2007). Aquat. Mamm. 33, 411–521] for cetaceans echolocating at high frequency (SEL 215 dB re 1 μPa2s) is too high for the harbor porpoise.
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