Harbor porpoises may suffer hearing loss when exposed to intense sounds. After exposure to a 1.5 kHz continuous tone without harmonics at a mean received sound pressure level of 154 dB re 1 μPa for 60 min (cumulative sound exposure level: 190 dB re 1 μPa2 s), the temporary hearing threshold shift (TTS) of a porpoise was quantified at 1.5, 2, 4, 6.5, 8, 16, 32, 63, and 125 kHz with a psychoacoustic technique. Significant TTS only occurred at 1.5 and 2 kHz. Mean TTS (1–4 min after sound exposure stopped) was ∼14 dB at 1.5 kHz and ∼11 dB at 2 kHz, and recovery occurred within 96 min. Control hearing tests before and after a 60 min low ambient noise exposure showed that normal variation in TTS was limited (standard deviation: ±1.0 dB). Ecological effects of TTS depend not only on the magnitude of the TTS, its duration (depending on the exposure duration), and the recovery time after the exposure stopped, but also on the hearing frequency affected by the fatiguing noise. The hearing thresholds of harbor porpoises for the frequencies of their echolocation signals are not affected by intense low frequency sounds, therefore these sounds are unlikely to affect foraging efficiency.
Hearing frequency thresholds of a harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) temporarily affected by a continuous 1.5 kHz tone
Ronald A. Kastelein, Robin Gransier, Lean Hoek, Martijn Rambags; Hearing frequency thresholds of a harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) temporarily affected by a continuous 1.5 kHz tone. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 1 September 2013; 134 (3): 2286–2292. https://doi.org/10.1121/1.4816405
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