eCite Digital Repository

The behavioural response of Australian fur seals to motor boat noise


Tropovich, JS and Hall-Aspland, S and Charrier, I and Arnould, JPY, The behavioural response of Australian fur seals to motor boat noise, PLoS one, 7, (5) Article e37228. ISSN 1932-6203 (2012) [Refereed Article]


Copyright Statement

Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0)

DOI: doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0037228


Australian fur seals breed on thirteen islands located in the Bass Strait, Australia. Land access to these islands is restricted, minimising human presence but boat access is still permissible with limitations on approach distances. Thirty-two controlled noise exposure experiments were conducted on breeding Australian fur seals to determine their behavioural response to controlled in-air motor boat noise on Kanowna Island (39°10'S, 146°18'E). Our results show there were significant differences in the seals’ behaviour at low (64–70 dB) versus high (75–85 dB) sound levels, with seals orientating themselves towards or physically moving away from the louder boat noise at three different sound levels. Furthermore, seals responded more aggressively with one another and were more alert when they heard louder boat noise. Australian fur seals demonstrated plasticity in their vocal responses to boat noise with calls being significantly different between the various sound intensities and barks tending to get faster as the boat noise got louder. These results suggest that Australian fur seals on Kanowna Island show behavioural disturbance to high level boat noise. Consequently, it is recommended that an appropriate level of received boat sound emissions at breeding fur seal colonies be below 74 dB and that these findings be taken into account when evaluating appropriate approach distances and speed limits for boats

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:acoustic stimulation, animals, behavior, fur seals, geography, linear models, logistic models, noise, observation, ships, time Factors, Victoria
Research Division:Agricultural, Veterinary and Food Sciences
Research Group:Fisheries sciences
Research Field:Fisheries management
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Assessment and management of terrestrial ecosystems
UTAS Author:Hall-Aspland, S (Ms Sophie Hall-Aspland)
ID Code:82920
Year Published:2012
Web of Science® Times Cited:16
Deposited By:Sustainable Marine Research Collaboration
Deposited On:2013-02-22
Last Modified:2015-02-05
Downloads:375 View Download Statistics

Repository Staff Only: item control page