Forsøksdyr: 3S3-OPS - Behavioral response studies of cetaceans to naval sonar signals in Norwegian waters - extension of permit

Godkjenningsdato 18.06.2018

Godkjenningsperiode 01.08.2018-31.07.2020

Anthropogenic noise might have a negative impact on marine life. In order to properly consider how behavioral responses to anthropogenic noise impact marine mammals and establish safety limits for sonar operations, there is a need to establish behavioral impact criteria. We propose to continue our successful international cooperative research program to quantify the behavioural reactions of cetaceans to controlled presentations of military sonar signals and relevant control sounds within Norwegian waters, focusing on the following key questions:
1. Does exposure to modern continuous-active-sonar (CAS) lead to different types or severity of behavioral responses than exposure to traditional pulsed active sonar (PAS) signals (CAS vs PAS).
2. How does the distance to the source affect behavioral responses? (Received level vs Range)

We request permit to tag and expose 85 whales of four different species (sperm whale, pilot whales, killer whales and humpback whales) to sonar sounds and control signals. We have refined our methods to minimize the distress on the animals. This is not just motivated by the animal welfare perspective, but behavioral research does require that we minimize the effect of the research itself on the animal. Tags are attached by non-invasive suction cups and are set to release after 18hrs. The tagging techniques have also been improved, so that we more efficiently get the tag on the animal. This increases data sampling rate, but also reduces the level of disturbance of target animals. New tags also allow us sample data from several animals in parallel, which reduces the number of exposures needed. Novel data analysis techniques have also been developed which assures maximum benefit of every experiment. The experiments might cause mild distress to the animals for a few yours, but the animals are free to express natural behavior. The maximum sound exposure levels will not exceed well established safe limits to avoid any hearing impairment.

The 3S-3 project (2016-2020) will inform national and international legal requirements and policy making directly, and the proposed research will improve our ability to predict how actual navy sonar usage might impact free-ranging cetaceans. The project is supported by Norwegian, Dutch, French, British and US Naval Authorities.

This permit is an extension of permit 2015/223222 (FOTS ID 8251)