Safety criteria for underwater sounds from offshore pile driving are needed to protect marine mammals. As a first step toward understanding effects of impulsive sounds, two harbor seals were exposed to octave-band white noise centered at 4 kHz at three mean received sound pressure levels (SPLs; 124, 136, and 148 dB re 1 μPa) at up to six durations (7.5, 15, 30, 60, 120, and 240 min); mean received sound exposure level (SEL) range was 166–190 dB re 1 . Hearing thresholds were determined before and after exposure. Temporary hearing threshold shifts (TTS) and subsequent recovery were quantified as changes in hearing thresholds at 1–4, 4–8, 8–12, 48, and 96 min after noise exposure in seal 01, and at 12–16, 16–20, 20–24, 60, and 108 min after exposure in seal 02. Maximum TTS (1–4 min after 120 min exposure to 148 dB re 1 μPa; 187 dB SEL) was 10 dB. Recovery occurred within ∼60 min. Statistically significant TTSs (>2.5 dB) began to occur at SELs of ∼170 (136 SPL, 60 min) and 178 dB re 1 (148 SPL, 15 min). However, SEL is not an optimal predictor of TTS for long duration, low SPL continuous noise, as duration and SPL play unequal roles in determining induced TTS.
Hearing threshold shifts and recovery in harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) after octave-band noise exposure at 4 kHz
Ronald A. Kastelein, Robin Gransier, Lean Hoek, Amy Macleod, John M. Terhune; Hearing threshold shifts and recovery in harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) after octave-band noise exposure at 4 kHz. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 1 October 2012; 132 (4): 2745–2761. https://doi.org/10.1121/1.4747013
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