Marine mammals around the world, including along the U.S. west coast, face many challenges due to interactions with people, from overfishing and entanglement to vessel strikes and disturbance from human sounds. Most of these issues remain poorly known and carefully conducted science is needed to manage and protect marine animals.
SOCAL-10 is a research project integrated with ongoing studies of basic diving, foraging, social behavior, and sound production of marine mammals in important biological areas near southern California. It extends previous studies of whether and how animals change their behavior when they hear different sounds.
SOCAL-10 is an interdisciplinary collaboration of experts in marine mammal biology and behavior with extensive field experience in safely and ethically measuring responses to controlled sound exposures.
This project will take place during August and September 2010 in coastal areas from San Diego to Santa Barbara and the Channel Islands, as well as an offshore area on and around the U.S. Navy’s training range near San Clemente Island.
SOCAL-10 is the first phase of a multi-year effort (~2010-2015), called SOCAL-BRS (Behavioral Response Study). This research collaboration is designed to increase understanding of marine mammal behavior and reactions to sound. Direct, scientific information about these responses to different human sounds is very limited, but critically needed by both regulatory agencies to support informed conservation management decisions and requirements and militaries for effective operational planning to minimize environmental risk.
This project extends previous BRS efforts conducted in the Bahamas and Mediterranean Sea in 2007-20091 and is being coordinated with related and successful field efforts (e.g., population surveys of Navy range areas, satellite tagging before active sonar operations) underway in southern California. SOCAL- 10 will use controlled exposure experiments (CEE) to carefully measure behavioral responses of individual animals to sound exposure. It is part of an integrated, international effort using similar experimental approaches and observational tracking of animals during real activities. Each method has pros and cons, but a comprehensive approach is proving useful in addressing difficult questions.
SOCAL-10 includes collaborations among scientists, acousticians, and engineers from NOAA, academic and private research laboratories, and U.S. Navysupported organizations.
This collaboration is designed to advance our understanding of southern California marine mammals and gain information about their responses to sound. The results are critically important to entities who produce sounds for a particular purpose (e.g., military sonar to find submerged objects) that may have unintended negative consequences on marine species, as well as for regulatory agencies responsible for managing protected species. SOCAL-10 is being supported by several organizations within the U.S. government (below) facing these issues and seeking better data to inform decision-making.