Noise-induced hearing loss in marine mammals: A review of temporary threshold shift studies from 1996 to 2015

Open Access Peer Reviewed Publication 2015

Journal of the Acoustical Society of America

One of the most widely recognized effects of intense noise exposure is a noise-induced threshold shift—an elevation of hearing thresholds following cessation of the noise. Over the past twenty years, as concerns over the potential effects of human-generated noise on marine mammals have increased, a number of studies have been conducted to investigate noise-induced threshold shift phenomena in marine mammals. The experiments have focused on measuring temporary threshold shift (TTS)—a noise-induced threshold shift that fully recovers over time—in marine mammals exposed to intense tones, band-limited noise, and underwater impulses with various sound pressure levels, frequencies, durations, and temporal patterns. In this review, the methods employed by the groups conducting marine mammal TTS experiments are described and the relationships between the experimental conditions, the noise exposure parameters, and the observed TTS are summarized. An attempt has been made to synthesize the major findings across experiments to provide the current state of knowledge for the effects of noise on marine mammal hearing.

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