A second paper from the SOCAL-BRS project was published today as well. This paper (in Biology Letters) presents results for the responses of beaked whales to both controlled and incidental exposure to mid-frequency sonar signals. The reference for the paper is:

DeRuiter SL, Southall BL, Calambokidis J, Zimmer WMX, Sadykova D, Falcone EA, Friedlaender AS, Joseph JE, Moretti, D, Schorr GS, Thomas L, Tyack PL. 2013 First direct measurements of behavioural responses by Cuvier’s beaked whales to mid-frequency active sonar. Biol Lett 9: 20130223.

This paper is available through Open Access as well at:

The abstract for the paper is given here:

Most marine mammal strandings coincident with naval sonar exercises have involved Cuvier’s beaked whales (Ziphius cavirostris). We recorded animal movement and acoustic data on two tagged Ziphius and obtained the first direct measurements of behavioural responses of this species to mid-frequency active (MFA) sonar signals. Each recording included a 30-min playback (one 1.6-s simulated MFA sonar signal repeated every 25 s); one whale was also incidentally exposed to MFA sonar from distant naval exercises. Whales responded strongly to playbacks at low received levels (RLs; 89–127 dB re 1 micro Pa): after ceasing normal fluking and echolocation, they swam rapidly, silently away, extending both dive duration and subsequent non-foraging interval. Distant sonar exercises (78–106 dB re 1 micro Pa) did not elicit such responses, suggesting that context may moderate reactions. The observed responses to playback occurred at RLs well below current regulatory thresholds; equivalent responses to operational sonars could elevate stranding risk and reduce foraging efficiency.



We are pleased to announce the publication of a new paper in the Proceedings of the Royal Society – B from our Southern California Behavioral Response Study on responses of blue whales to simulated sonar and other human sounds. The reference for the paper is:

Goldbogen JA, Southall BL, DeRuiter SL, Calambokidis J, Friedlaender AS, Hazen EL, Falcone EA, Schorr GS, Douglass A, Moretti DJ, Kyburg C, McKenna MF, Tyack PL. 2013. Blue whales respond to simulated mid-frequency military sonar. Proc R Soc B 20130657.

The paper is available through Open Access at:

The abstract for the paper is included here:

Mid-frequency military (1–10 kHz) sonars have been associated with lethal mass strandings of deep-diving toothed whales, but the effects on endangered baleen whale species are virtually unknown. Here, we used controlled exposure experiments with simulated military sonar and other mid-frequency sounds to measure behavioural responses of tagged blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus) in feeding areas within the Southern California Bight. Despite using source levels orders of magnitude below some operational military systems, our results demonstrate that mid-frequency sound can significantly affect blue whale behaviour, especially during deep feeding modes. When a response occurred, behavioural changes varied widely from cessation of deep feeding to increased swimming speed and directed travel away from the sound source. The variability of these behavioural responses was largely influenced by a complex interaction of behavioural state, the type of mid-frequency sound and received sound level. Sonar-induced disruption of feeding and displacement from high-quality prey patches could have significant and previously undocumented impacts on baleen whale foraging ecology, individual fitness and population health.

New Paper on Amphibious Hearing in Pinnipeds in Special Issue of Journal of Comparative Physiology (A)

SEA blog,

Please note the availability of a new special issue of Journal of Comparative Physiology (A) on Sensory Biology of Marine Animals (see below details and link). Within this issue is an original paper lead by Colleen Reichmuth at UCSC <> to which SEA’s B. Southall contributed. This paper is available on request.

Comparative assessment of amphibious hearing in pinnipeds

Colleen Reichmuth (1), Marla M. Holt (2), Jason Mulsow (3), Jillian M. Sills (4) and Brandon L. Southall (1, 5)

(1) Long Marine Laboratory, Institute of Marine Sciences, University of California Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA

(2) Conservation Biology Division, Northwest Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2725 Montlake Blvd. East, Seattle, WA 98112, USA

(3) National Marine Mammal Foundation, 2240 Shelter Island Drive, # 200, San Diego, CA 92106, USA

(4) Long Marine Laboratory, Department of Ocean Sciences, University of California Santa Cruz, 100 Shaffer Road, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA

(5) SEA Inc., 9099 Soquel Drive, Suite 8, Aptos, CA 95003, USA  

Journal of Comparative Physiology A

Neuroethology, Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology

Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg

Volume 199, Issue 6, June 2013


Special Issue: Sensory Biology of Aquatic Mammals

 (13 articles)

Guest Editors: Wolf Hanke, Guido Dehnhardt

Editor-in chief: Friedrich G. Barth



Sensory biology of aquatic mammals

Wolf Hanke (1, 2) and Guido Dehnhardt (1, 2)

(1) Institute for Biosciences, Chair of Sensory and Cognitive Ecology, Rostock University, Albert-Einstein-Strasse 3, 18059 Rostock, Germany

(2) Marine Science Center, Am Yachthafen 3a, 18119 Rostock, Germany



Hydrodynamic perception in true seals (Phocidae) and eared seals (Otariidae)

Wolf Hanke (1), Sven Wieskotten (1), Christopher Marshall (2) and Guido Dehnhardt (1)

(1) Institute for Biosciences, Chair of Sensory and Cognitive Ecology, Rostock University, Albert-Einstein-Strasse 3, 18059 Rostock, Germany

(2) Department of Marine Biology, Texas A&M University, Galveston, TX 77553, USA 


Original Paper:

Detection of hydrodynamic stimuli by the Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris)

Joseph C. Gaspard III (1, 2), Gordon B. Bauer (1, 3), Roger L. Reep (2), Kimberly Dziuk (1), LaToshia Read (1) and David A. Mann (1, 4)

(1) Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, Sarasota, FL 34236, USA

(2) Aquatic Animal Health Program, Department of Physiological Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610, USA

(3) Division of Social Sciences, New College of Florida, Sarasota, FL 34243, USA

(4) College of Marine Science, University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, FL 33701, USA


Original Paper:

Echolocation in Blainville’s beaked whales (Mesoplodon densirostris)

P. T. Madsen (1), N. Aguilar de Soto (2, 3), P. Arranz (2, 3) and M. Johnson (3)

(1) Department of Bioscience—Zoophysiology, Aarhus University, Build. 1131, Århus, Denmark

(2) Department of Animal Biology, La Laguna University, 38206 La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain

(3) Scottish Oceans Institute, University of St. Andrews, St. Andrews, KY16 8LB, Scotland



Gain control in the sonar of odontocetes

Alexander Ya Supin (1) and Paul E. Nachtigall (2)

(1) Institute of Ecology and Evolution, Russian Academy of Science, 33 Leninsky Prospect, 119071 Moscow, Russia

(2) Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, University of Hawaii, Hawaii, USA



Communication in bottlenose dolphins: 50 years of signature whistle research

Vincent M. Janik (1) and Laela S. Sayigh (2)

(1) Sea Mammal Research Unit, School of Biology, University of St Andrews, Fife, KY16 8LB, UK

(2) Biology Department, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA 02543, USA


Original Paper:

Comparative assessment of amphibious hearing in pinnipeds

Colleen Reichmuth (1), Marla M. Holt (2), Jason Mulsow (3), Jillian M. Sills (4) and Brandon L. Southall (1, 5)

(1) Long Marine Laboratory, Institute of Marine Sciences, University of California Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA

(2) Conservation Biology Division, Northwest Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2725 Montlake Blvd. East, Seattle, WA 98112, USA

(3) National Marine Mammal Foundation, 2240 Shelter Island Drive, # 200, San Diego, CA 92106, USA

(4) Long Marine Laboratory, Department of Ocean Sciences, University of California Santa Cruz, 100 Shaffer Road, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA

(5) SEA Inc., 9099 Soquel Drive, Suite 8, Aptos, CA 95003, USA


Original Paper:

Are harbour seals (Phoca vitulina) able to perceive and use polarised light?

Frederike D. Hanke (1), Lars Miersch (1), Eric J. Warrant (2), Fedor M. Mitschke (3) and Guido Dehnhardt (1)

(1) Institute for Biosciences, Sensory and Cognitive Ecology, University of Rostock, Albert-Einstein-Str. 3, 18059 Rostock, Germany

(2) Lund Vision Group, Department of Biology, University of Lund, Sölvegatan 35, 22362 Lund, Sweden

(3) Institute for Physics, University of Rostock, Universitätsplatz 3, 18055 Rostock, Germany


Original Paper:

Vibrissal touch sensing in the harbor seal (Phoca vitulina): how do seals judge size?

Robyn Grant (1, 2), Sven Wieskotten (3), Nina Wengst (3), Tony Prescott (1) and Guido Dehnhardt (3)

(1) Active Touch Laboratory, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK

(2) Division of Biology and Conservation Ecology, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK

(3) Marine Science Center, University of Rostock, Rostock, Germany 

Original Paper:

Olfactory discrimination ability of South African fur seals (Arctocephalus pusillus) for enantiomers

Sunghee Kim (1), Mats Amundin (2) and Matthias Laska (1)

(1) IFM Biology, Linköping University, 581 83 Linköping, Sweden

(2) Kolmårdens Djurpark, 618 92 Kolmården, Sweden



The neurobiology and behavior of the American water shrew (Sorex palustris)

Kenneth C. Catania (1)

(1) Department of Biological Sciences, Vanderbilt University, VU Station B, Box 35-1634, Nashville, TN 37235-1634, USA



Passive electroreception in aquatic mammals

Nicole U. Czech-Damal (1), Guido Dehnhardt (2), Paul Manger (3) and Wolf Hanke (2)

(1) Biocenter Grindel and Zoological Museum, University of Hamburg, Martin-Luther-King-Platz 3, 20146 Hamburg, Germany

(2) Institute for Biosciences, University of Rostock, Albert-Einstein-Strasse 3, 18059 Rostock, Germany

(3) School of Anatomical Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, 7 York Road, Parktown, 2193 Johannesburg, South Africa


Consciousness in dolphins? A review of recent evidence

Heidi E. Harley (1)

(1) Division of Social Sciences, New College of Florida, 5800 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota, FL 34243, USA

SEA’s Dr. Hugh Southall lead author on new publication on magnetic wave reflection

SEA Senior Scientist Dr. Hugh Southall has published a new paper in Microwave and Optical Technology Letters. Dr. Southall has long been a leading expert in signal processing, electrical engineering, and radar and antenna technology. SEA is very proud and privileged to bring his expertise to the new and challenging environmental issues on which we are working. This paper is just one example of his exciting and cutting edge research in applying complex signal processing and engineering solutions to tough question.



Hugh L. Southall,1 Bae-Ian Wu,2 and Jeffery W. Allen2

1 SEA, Inc., 2 Luan Circle, Chelmsford, MA 01824

2 Sensors Directorate, AFRL/RYHA, 2241 Avionics Circle, Wright-Patterson AFB, OH 45433-7320;

Corresponding author:

The article is available online through the following link:

Abstract: It has been shown that transverse electric plane waves reflect from certain types of metamaterials with a unit magnitude reflection coefficient (Smith and Schurig, Phys Rev Lett 90 &899;2003), 077405-1–077405-4).Here we investigate the reflection of transverse magnetic plane waves using a Hertzian dipole over a semi-infinite slab of metamaterial, which is used as a ground plane. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Microwave Opt Technol Lett 55:899–903, 2013; View this article online at DOI 10.1002/mop.27454

B. Southall Kicks Off Marine Sound Working Group of World Ocean Council

SEA’s Dr. Brandon Southall served as a co-chair of the newly formed Marine Sound Working Group at the World Ocean Council’s 2013 Sustainable Ocean Summit (SOS) which was held earlier this week in Washington DC.

Dr. Southall gave an interview with Maritime TV on the issues related to human sound in the oceans and marine life, the importance of the SOS, and the initiation of the working group. You can see the interview at: <>. Look for other interviews of SOS participants below as well.


Brandon Southall to give Science Sunday Lecture at Long Marine Lab Seymour Center

Dr. Brandon Southall will give the Science Sunday Lecture this month at UCSC’s Long Marine Laboratory Seymour Center

Sunday, April 21, 1 PM
Ocean Journeys: How I became a marine scientist
Brandon Southall Research Associate, UC Santa Cruz
President and Senior Scientist, SEA, Inc.

Not everyone knows what they want to be when they “grow-up.” And growing up in East Texas doesn’t seem like a direct path to becoming a marine scientist, but that’s how it all started for Brandon Southall.

Bass fishing in Texas, studying fresh water ecology in Montana, and a college exchange opportunity to the University of Hawai’i are just the beginnings of the story that Southall discusses from his new book Ocean Journeys: Beginnings, describing one man’s discovery of the ocean, the animals that live in it, and a passion for understanding and conserving the sea.

Southall will discuss how some of the formative personal and research experiences in his early life and career that shaped and guided his evolution as a marine scientist. These include diving and fishing in Hawai’i and the Florida Keys, tracking turtles on black sand beaches, finding the cold edges of Monterey Bay, and being fully immersed in the amazing science and collaborations at Long Marine Lab. Southall’s adventures led him to Washington DC, around the world, and back again to the Monterey Bay.

Join us at this Science Sunday for a unique look at the person behind the ocean science that is making a difference. Ocean Journeys: Beginnings is available in the Seymour Center’s Ocean Discovery Shop. Southall will be available to sign books immediately following the talk.

More information is available at


Meet Ari Friedlaender – Whale Tagger and Marine Ecologist Extraordinaire

SEA’s very own Ari Friedlaender did a great recent interview with Check it out at:

Marine biologists are pretty badass. Just ask Ari Friedlaender about his job hanging off the side of a boat over Antarctic waters with a 25-foot pole trying to tag a whale. He spends most of his life on a boat off countless coasts following families of Humpback and Minke whales in an attempt to understand just a little bit about the biggest animals on the planet. Friedlaender chatted with us about what it’s like when an animal the size of a truck flicks its tail at you.



Sustainable Ocean Summit Session to Initiate Global Multi-Industry Effort on the Science and Solutions to Sound in the Marine Environment

20 March 2013

The World Ocean Council’s newly formed Marine Sound Working Group is a collaborative industry forum focused on identifying and implementing real-world technical and operational solutions to understand and reduce potential negative impacts of sound from industrial activities on marine life.

Ocean businesses concerned with the marine sound issue are invited to the Sustainable Ocean Summit (SOS 2013) session on this complex challenge to help move forward with cross-sectoral collaboration and leadership in tackling the ocean sound issue.

The WOC Marine Sound Working Group will create business value and economies of scale in addressing marine sound by bringing together a diverse range of industries to:

  • Form partnerships with existing efforts on ocean sound and marine life.
  • Engage industries that generate sound but have been less involved to-date.
  • Enable responsible industries to be proactive rather than reactive to the evolving complexity in scientific findings and regulatory requirements.
  • Discuss and seek tangible solutions and applied research strategies and priorities.
The working group will kick off at the SOS 2103 2013 session and begin developing the its focus, likely to include:

  • Undertaking education and outreach on marine sound and marine life among ocean industries.
  • Promoting baseline data gathering and operations monitoring to assist in determining cumulative impacts.
  • Identifying responsible business practices regarding marine sound, such as reducing sound input through quieting technologies and operational measures, and making industry monitoring data on animal presence, abundance and impacts available.
  • Integrating passive acoustic and other monitoring efforts into ocean observing systems and platforms of opportunity.
  • Identifying and enabling applied research on behavior and physiological impacts, emphasizing sound sources that are less well known.

The Marine Sound Working Group is co-chaired by two of the world’s leading marine sound experts, Dr. Brandon Southall (SEA, Inc.) and John Young (CSA Sciences, Inc). The co-chairs are clearly aware of (and actively involved in) other efforts to understand and reduce the impacts of sound on marine life, including those of the Oil and Gas Producers Association (OGP) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The cross-sectoral WOC Working Group will be structured and focused to create synergies with the important efforts of industry, government and others.


About the Sustainable Ocean Summit 2013 (SOS 2013)

The SOS 2013 (22-24 April, 2013, Washington, D.C.) is the only international ocean business community gathering dedicated to industry leadership and collaboration in developing solutions to ocean sustainability challenges. The theme of SOS 2013 is “Oceans 2050 – The Ocean Business Community and Sustainable Seas”. This event brings together a wide range of ocean industries, including: shipping, oil and gas, fisheries, aquaculture, tourism, renewable energy (wind, wave, tidal), mining, ports, dredging, cables, pipelines, the maritime legal, financial and insurance communities, and others.

For SOS 2013 information, registration and sponsorship opportunities, go to:

Contact: Paul Holthus, Executive Director Phone: +1 (808) 277-9008
email: Web:

B. Southall to give Smithsonian webinar on SOCAL-BRS project

Webcast:  Marine Mammals and Military Sonar. Brandon Southall, SEA Inc. and University of California Santa Cruz, will be presenting “Marine Mammal Responses to Simulated Military Sonar: Southern California Behavioral Response Study” on Tuesday, March 12 at noon (4 pm GMT) at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.

The talk will be webcast and can be viewed at:

Brandon’s talk will be posted later, a link to his talk will be available at:


Transient killer whale studied as part of the SOCAL-BRS research project (photo credit: C. Kyburg taken under NMFS permit #14534-2)

NPR story on ongoing elephant seal research

SEA’s own Caroline Casey was recently featured on NPR’s Morning Edition for her fantastic work on elephant seal acoustic behavior as part of her graduate work at UC Santa Cruz. The story is online and has some neat examples of elephant seal calls – please check it out at:

If you have any follow-up questions for Caroline please pass them along as well to <> and we will get an answer to you.  Below is a photo of Caroline and Brandon sampling elephant seal acoustic behavior at Ano Nuevo State Reserve in northern California (credit: A. Friedlaender taken under NMFS permit #14636)



SOCAL-BRS is a study of basic behavior and responses to controlled sound exposures in a variety of marine mammal species.

Southall Environmental Associates, Inc.

Reducing environmental impacts from essential human activities requires unique approaches to meet challenging conservation objectives in the 21st century. SEA, Inc. works globally with diverse scientific teams and cutting-edge technologies to provide real-world solutions. Learn more about SEA