Sanctuary Integrated Monitoring Network
Monitoring Project

Long Term Monitoring Using Ocean Noise Reference Stations

Principal Investigator(s)

  • Holger Klinck
    Oregon State University
  • Jay Barlow
    NOAA Fisheries, Southwest Fisheries Science Center
Start Date: October 17, 2014

The objective of this project is to establish a NOAA-operated network of ten ocean noise reference stations (ONRS) in US waters to monitor long-term changes and trends in the underwater ambient sound field.

NOAA's ONRS Network will detect and characterize:

(1) sounds produced and used by living marine resources (e.g., endangered marine mammals)
(2) natural sources of noise from physical oceanographic processes
(3) anthropogenic noise sources that contribute to the overall ocean noise environment.

Summary to Date

The objective of this project is to establish a NOAA operated network of ten ocean reference stations in US waters to monitor long-term changes and trends in the underwater ambient sound field. This is the fifth reference station to be established (NRS05) and the first within the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary.


Noise generated by anthropogenic activities (especially commercial shipping and seismic oil & gas exploration) is increasingly being recognized as a potential threat to marine mammals which are protected in the U.S. by the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act. Current scientific data suggest that increased ambient noise levels impact marine mammals by hindering communication, altering communication behavior, altering locomotive behavior, and inducing stress. Additional concerns associated with the degraded acoustic quality of diverse habitats broaden these concerns to include possible repercussions for fish and invertebrate species, many of which NOAA manages as commercially-harvested, protects as resources within sanctuaries, or studies as key elements to sustaining healthy ecosystems. For these reasons it is important for science-based regulatory agencies including NOAA to monitor long-term trends and changes in the ambient sound field. However, consistent and comparable multi-year acoustic data sets covering all major regions of the U.S. do not exist. This is a collaborative effort between OAR’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL), all NMFS Science Centers, and three of the sites within the NOS National Marine Sanctuary System to establish an Ocean Noise Reference Station Network to collect these very important and valuable acoustic long-term data sets.

Study Parameters

  • Behavior
  • Disturbance
  • Acoustics

Study Methods

The instruments were deployed in a water depth of approximately 1000m at 33 54.014N 119 34.915W. The deployment consisted of a railroad wheel anchor, an acoustically triggered release device, approximately 100m of synthetic line, the recording system, and a 40" sub-surface, syntactic foam float. The acoustic recording device, a Haruphone from NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Lab, was positioned at a depth of 900m and was designed to record continuously for two years with a recording bandwidth of 10 Hz to 2500 Hz. The deployment was recovered and redeployed at the same location from the NOAA R/V Reuben Lasker on 5 Noveber 2015 to download data and to reset the instrument's firmware to prevent a premature shutdown after only one year of data collection.


    Diagram of Ocean Noise Reference Station NRS05 located in the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary.
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