Low-frequency temporary threshold shift not observed in spotted or ringed seals exposed to single air gun impulses
Peer Reviewed Publication
The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America
Reichmuth, C., Ghoul, A., Sills, J., Rouse, A. et al.
Underwater hearing thresholds were measured at 100 Hz in trained spotted (Phoca largha) and ringed seals (Pusa hispida) before and immediately following voluntary exposure to impulsive noise from a seismic air gun. Auditory responses were determined from psychoacoustic data and behavioral responses were scored from video recordings. Four successive exposure conditions of increasing level were tested, with received unweighted sound exposure levels from 165 to 181 dB re 1 μPa2 s and peak-to-peak sound pressures from 190 to 207 dB re 1 μPa. There was no evidence that these single seismic exposures altered hearing—including in the highest exposure condition, which matched previous predictions of temporary threshold shift (TTS) onset. Following training at low exposure levels, relatively mild behavioral responses were observed for higher exposure levels. This demonstrates that individuals can learn to tolerate loud, impulsive sounds, but does not necessarily imply that similar sounds would not elicit stronger behavioral responses in wild seals. The absence of observed TTS confirms that regulatory guidelines (based on M-weighting) for single impulse noise exposures are conservative for seals. However, additional studies using multiple impulses and/or higher exposure levels are needed to quantify exposure conditions that do produce measurable changes in hearing sensitivity.
Link To Publication
Some links to publications are behind pay-walls and hence might not be readily accessible to the public