Listening to the Sounds of the Gulf of Mexico
The acoustics team recovers and deploys a variety of moored underwater recording instruments to provide information on ocean noise, including sounds from human activities, fish, and marine mammals.
Long-term sound recordings in the Gulf of Mexico and oceans around the world have been at the forefront of oceanographic research, especially whale and dolphin research. On the final leg of the NOAA’s Southeast 2023 Vessel Surveys For Abundance and Distribution of Marine Mammals and Seabirds project, the acoustics team is recovering and deploying a variety of moored underwater recording instruments.
NOAA scientists and their collaborators have been deploying underwater recording devices throughout the region to collect ocean sound data for a variety of projects. They deploy these instruments in strategic locations to record sounds and provide information on the soundscape. This includes sounds from human activities, fish, and marine mammals that come through the area.
We deploy moored acoustic recorders for long periods of time to better understand the biology of acoustically active animals such as marine mammals. They also improve our understanding of ocean noise levels and how human activities impact them.
Melissa Soldevilla, Ph.D., an acoustician for NOAA’s Southeast Fisheries Science Center explained, “The recordings we bring back help our team to better understand distribution, abundance, habitat use, seasonal and longer-term movement patterns, and calling behavior of various marine mammals.”
Overall, the information obtained from these recordings will contribute to effective management, scientific discoveries and conservation efforts.
Recovering and Deploying Passive Acoustic Moorings for Monitoring Ocean Soundscapes
Each bottom-mounted mooring contains a stationary passive acoustic recorder that is anchored by a large weight to the seafloor and has flotation to hold the instrumentation up in the water column. Each bottom-mounted mooring is set out in a strategic location for several months or years.
During this last leg of the survey, our team went to a location near our planned track line to retrieve and redeploy a bottom-mounted passive acoustic mooring. This mooring is a part of the Ocean Noise Reference Station Network that began in 2014. It’s a collaborative effort between NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, NOAA Fisheries, NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuaries, and the National Park Service.
Read more at fisheries.noaa.gov..