The marine soundscape of the Perth Canyon

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Abstract

The Perth Canyon is a submarine canyon off Rottnest Island in Western Australia. It is rich in biodiversity in general, and important as a feeding and resting ground for great whales on migration. Australia's Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS) has moorings in the Perth Canyon monitoring its acoustical, physical and biological oceanography. Data from these moorings, as well as weather data from a near-by Bureau of Meteorology weather station on Rottnest Island and ship traffic data from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority were correlated to characterise and quantify the marine soundscape between 5 and 3000. Hz, consisting of its geophony, biophony and anthrophony. Overall, biological sources are a strong contributor to the soundscape at the IMOS site, with whales dominating seasonally at low (15-100. Hz) and mid frequencies (200-400. Hz), and fish or invertebrate choruses dominating at high frequencies (1800-2500. Hz) at night time throughout the year. Ships contribute significantly to the 8-100. Hz band at all times of the day, all year round, albeit for a few hours at a time only. Wind-dependent noise is significant at 200-3000. Hz; winter rains are audible underwater at 2000-3000. Hz. We discuss how passive acoustic data can be used as a proxy for ocean weather. Passive acoustics is an efficient way of monitoring animal visitation times and relative densities, and potential anthropogenic influences.

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Erbe, C., Verma, A., McCauley, R., Gavrilov, A., & Parnum, I. (2015). The marine soundscape of the Perth Canyon. Progress in Oceanography, 137, 38–51. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pocean.2015.05.015

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