Noise in the Sanctuaries

May 2016

How do scientists measure sound in national marine sanctuaries? Check out our video about a new hydrophone in Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary to find out! And learn more about noise in sanctuaries here. ‪#‎EarthIsBlue‬.


[humpback whale song]

[sound of cargo ship engine]

[pilot whale sound]

[airgun sound]

[common dolphin sounds]

[sound of torpedo blast]

We're here on NOAA's research vessel Fulmar to deploy an acoustic mooring out at Cordell Bank. Our goal is to record ambient sound in the ocean for two years and with this information we'll be able to create a soundscape of the sanctuary which gives us information about what types of sounds and how loud the sounds are in the ocean.

This mooring is going to be listening to low-frequency sounds so it will give us sounds like noise from commercial ships and from large whales that vocalize. At the top of the mooring is a large buoy that's made of a hard syntactic foam, and then there's the length of line.

Below that is the hydrophone itself which is the instrument that records sound in the water. Then there's some more line. Down near the bottom of the mooring there is an acoustic release. And then some other line and chain, and then below that is a very heavy anchor that weighs it to the bottom.

The mooring is heavy and sturdy. It remains in the ocean for two years and records all that data to a hard drive. At the end of two years, we'll come back and we'll use a transponder to send a signal to the acoustic release which then releases the entire mooring except for the anchor to the surface so that we'll be able to recover it.