Anthropogenic noise can have far reaching effects on the health of marine life.  This noise can interfere with communication and recognition of threats, drive animal populations away from habitats that are essential to their survival, induce acute and chronic stress that reduces fitness, and even directly damage living tissues if the sound is extremely intense.  This project examines anthropogenic noise and potential mitigation of its harmful impacts in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

A primary global noise source is low-frequency sound from large vessels.  MBARI’s Monterey Accelerated Research System (MARS) cabled observatory, where we record sound continuously, is approximately 20 km inshore of the shipping lanes at their closest point of approach.  MARS is an effective monitoring location for shipping noise that can travel long distances through the ocean.  For example, our monitoring revealed temporary reduction of low-frequency noise associated with changes in vessel traffic caused by economic repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 (Ryan et al., 2021). In the following year, noise levels were elevated due to logistical chaos in California ports during the period of recovering economic activity.  These types of studies reveal how closely connected ocean health is to human socioeconomic health.



Krumpel, A., A. Rice, K.E. Frasier, F. Reese, J.S. Trickey, A.E. Simonis, J.P. Ryan, S.M. Wiggins, A. Denzinger, H.U. Schnitzler, and S. Baumann-Pickering. 2021. Long-term patterns of noise from underwater explosions and their relation to fisheries in Southern California. Frontiers in Marine Science, 8: 1–21.

Ryan, J.P., J.E. Joseph, T. Margolina, L.T. Hatch, A. Azzara, A. Reyes, B.L. Southall, A. DeVogelaera, L.E. Peavey Reeves, Y. Zhang, D.E. Cline, B. Jones, P. McGill, S. Baumann-Pickering, and A.K. Stimpert. 2021. Reduction of low-frequency vessel noise in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary during the COVID-19 pandemic. Frontiers in Marine Science, 8: 1–13.

A.E. Simonis, K.A. Forney, S. Rankin, J. Ryan, Y. Zhang, A. DeVogelaere, J. Joseph, T. Margolina, A. Krumpel, and S. Baumann-Pickering. 2020. Seal Bomb Noise as a Potential Threat to Monterey Bay Harbor Porpoise. Frontiers in Marine Science, 7.

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