ASA 128th Meeting - Austin, Texas - 1994 Nov 28 .. Dec 02

2pAO9. Behavioral response of migrating gray whales (Eschrichtius robustus) to acoustic stimuli along the central California coast.

Nicole M. Angiel

School of Fisheries, Univ. of Washington, WH-10, Seattle, WA 98195

The gray whale (Eschrichtius robustus) migrates close to shore along the central California coast, and is easily observable from land. The objective of this study is to determine the effects of low-frequency sounds on gray whale behavior. A J-15 transducer will be used to project tones of varying low frequencies and intensities from a vessel platform located off the coast of central California. Gray whales will be observed from shore during the south and northbound migrations past this region, in the presence and absence of sound production. Observed behaviors will then be compared and any disturbance due to sound will be determined. Results of this experiment will be important in regulating future sound-producing activities along the gray whale migration route. This study will also help resolve some of the controversy over another experiment known as the acoustic thermometry of ocean climate (ATOC). The ATOC program involves the projection of low-frequency sounds at higher intensities to measure changes in the ocean temperature over extended time periods. One of the sound projectors for ATOC is proposed to be placed off the central California coast and within the auditory range of migrating gray whales.