Underwater Sound Sources and Ambient Noise in Fowlers Bay, South Australia, during the Austral Winter
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© 2019, Australian Acoustical Society.
Passive acoustic recordings made in Fowlers Bay, South Australia, during the austral winter of 2013–2017 revealed the presence of several sources of underwater sound. Sound sources of biological origin include baleen and toothed whales, fish and shrimp. Physical sources of underwater sound include wind- and rain-driven noises, and underwater sounds of anthropogenic origin were primarily from boats and occasionally from an aircraft. Biological sound sources were commonly recorded within the frequency range of around 25 Hz to nearly 17 kHz, with baleen whales within the range of ~ 25 Hz to 6 kHz, and dolphins at higher frequencies of approximately 2.5–17 kHz. Broadband sounds from physical and anthropogenic sound sources were noticeable at frequencies above ~ 50 Hz. The ambient noise level in Fowlers Bay at frequencies below 100 Hz was relatively low (around 75 dB re 1 µPa2/Hz for the 95% percentile) due to an insignificant contribution of noise from distant shipping. At higher frequencies, the noise level was governed primarily by noise from wind and varied by nearly 30 dB re 1 µPa2/Hz depending on weather conditions, up to around 80 dB re 1 µPa2/Hz for the 95% percentile during periods of strong winds and intense rainfall.
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