SMM Seminar Editors’ Select Series: Sperm whale echolocation and foraging behavior during different sea states and sonar exposures

The SMM Seminar Editor’s Select Series highlights the latest and most exciting marine mammal science published in the Marine Mammal Science Journal. The SMM created this series to give scientists and citizens around the world a chance to engage with marine mammal scientists, learn and ask questions. All are welcome.

Thursday, 24 March 2022 at 9 am PST (12 pm EST / 5 pm GMT)
SMM Seminar Editors’ Select Series: Sperm whale echolocation and foraging behavior during different sea states and sonar exposures — indications of masking?

About this talk:
Marine mammals that rely on sound for important life functions, such as echolocation, have evolved strategies to cope with auditory masking. However, these may not be completely effective or cost-free, raising concern for anthropogenic noise impacts. We investigated whether sperm whales (N=15 individuals with sound- and movement-recording tags) exhibited behaviors consistent with masking during experimental exposures to navy sonar and wind-generated surface noise. Compared to strong variation with depth, foraging and echolocation behavior was relatively stable throughout different sea states and sonar exposures. Nevertheless, small increase in apparent click levels and reduced prey capture attempts were consistent with our hypotheses for masking from sea state and sonar.

About the presenter:
Dr Saana Isojunno is a behavioral ecologist at the University of St Andrews, Scotland, based at the Centre for Research into Ecological and Environmental Modelling (CREEM). She also works closely with the Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU). She majored in fisheries and hydrobiology at University of Jyvaskylä, Finland, before she moved to St Andrews where she gained a masters in Marine Mammal Science in 2008 and a PhD in sperm whale foraging behavior and anthropogenic disturbance in 2014. Her research strives to better understand how individuals respond to, and cope with, environmental stressors and human activities. She focuses on applied questions such as the effects of underwater noise and marine renewables while drawing from fundamental science such as the non-consumptive effects of predators on prey.

Open access to all Marine Mammal Science papers is available to current SMM members. Open access to this article is made temporarily available to the public in the weeks around the presentation and can be found here.

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