National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2013

Observations of shallow water marine ambient sound: the low frequency underwater soundscape of the central Oregon coast

Haxel, J.H., R.P. Dziak, and H. Matsumoto

J. Acoust. Soc. Am., 133(5), 2586–2596, doi: 10.1121/1.4796132 (2013)

A year-long experiment (March 2010 to April 2011) measuring ambient sound at a shallow water site (50 m) on the central OR coast near the Port of Newport provides important baseline information for comparisons with future measurements associated with resource development along the inner continental shelf of the Pacific Northwest. Ambient levels in frequencies affected by surf-generated noise (f < 100 Hz) characterize the site as a high-energy end member within the spectrum of shallow water coastal areas influenced by breaking waves. Dominant sound sources include locally generated ship noise (66% of total hours contain local ship noise), breaking surf, wind induced wave breaking and baleen whale vocalizations. Additionally, an increase in spectral levels for frequencies ranging from 35 to 100 Hz is attributed to noise radiated from distant commercial ship commerce. One-second root mean square (rms) sound pressure level (SPLrms) estimates calculated across the 10–840 Hz frequency band for the entire year long deployment show minimum, mean, and maximum values of 84 dB, 101 dB, and 152 dB re 1 μPa.

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