Journal Article

Displacement of <i>Orcinus orca</i> (L.) by high amplitude sound in British Columbia, Canada

Alexandra B. Morton and Helena K. Symonds

in ICES Journal of Marine Science

Published on behalf of ICES/CIEM

Volume 59, issue 1, pages 71-80
Published in print January 2002 | ISSN: 1054-3139
Published online January 2002 | e-ISSN: 1095-9289 | DOI:
Displacement of Orcinus orca (L.) by high amplitude sound in British Columbia, Canada

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  • Marine and Estuarine Biology


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Whale displacement by acoustic “pollution” has been difficult to document, even in cases where it is strongly suspected, because noise effects can rarely be separated from other stimuli. Two independent studies on the natural history of killer whales (Orcinus orca) monitored frequency of whale occurrence from January 1985 through December 2000 in two adjacent areas: Johnstone Strait and the Broughton Archipelago. Four high-amplitude, acoustic harassment devices (AHDs) were installed throughout 1993 on already existing salmon farms in the Broughton Archipelago, in attempts to deter predation on fish pens by harbour seals (Phoca vitulina Linnaeus). While whale occurrence was relatively stable in both areas until 1993, it then increased slightly in the Johnstone Strait area and declined significantly in the Broughton Archipelago while AHDs were in use. Both mammal-eating and fish-eating killer whales were similarly impacted. Acoustic harassment ended in the Broughton Archipelago in May 1999 and whale occurrence re-established to baseline levels. This study concludes that whale displacement resulted from the deliberate introduction of noise into their environment.

Keywords: British Columbia; long-term change; noise; Orcinus orca

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Environmental Science ; Marine and Estuarine Biology

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