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Using Acoustics to Monitor Marine Mammals

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Date: March 5, 2008
Contact: Yvonne Menard, 805-658-5725

Scripps Institution of Oceanography researcher Dr. John Hildebrand will talk about how acoustic monitoring can be used to study marine mammals and shipping noise around the Channel Islands at the March “From Shore to Sea” lecture.

Hildebrand’s research has measured ambient noise in the Santa Barbara Channel, developed acoustic techniques for counting marine mammal populations, and identified the effects of high-intensity sound on marine mammals.

The yearlong NOAA-funded study has determined that the Santa Barbara Channel, well known for its high concentrations and diversity of marine mammals, is also one of the noisiest areas in the ocean with an average of one ship per hour passing through. The combination of abundant marine life and high levels of shipping noise in this region has raised questions concerning the effect of sound on marine mammals.

Hildebrand is studying the impacts of ship noise on marine mammals and fishes by collecting low-and high-frequency sound measurements with devices located at 300 and 800 meters on the sea floor near Santa Rosa and San Miguel Islands. Additionally, he is collecting data from shipping vessels greater than 300 tons to assess their impact. This preliminary study hopes to establish a baseline sound inventory for the Channel Islands region.

Hildebrand, a professor at the University of California at San Diego (UCSD), teaches classes on experimental laboratory acoustics and bioacoustics. He has a B.S. degree from UCSD in Electrical Engineering and a Ph.D. degree in Applied Physics from Stanford University. 

The “From Shore to Sea” lecture series, an effort to further the understanding of research on the Channel Islands and surrounding waters, is jointly sponsored by Channel Islands National Park and Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary with generous support from the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum. The lectures occur at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 11, 2008, at the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum at 113 Harbor Way in Santa Barbara Harbor and Wednesday, March 12, 2008, at the Channel Islands National Park Robert J. Lagomarsino Visitor Center located at 1901 Spinnaker Drive in the Ventura Harbor. The programs are free and open to the public.

Did You Know?

Santa Barbara Island live-forever                 timhaufphotography.com

The Channel Islands are often called the "North American Galapagos" because they are home to over 150 endemic or unique species.