Marine Mammal Behavioral Response Studies in Southern California: Advances in Technology and Experimental Methods

Brandon L. Southall*, David Moretti, Bruce Abraham, John Calambokidis, Stacy Lynn De Ruiter, Peter L. Tyack

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Citations (Scopus)


Behavioral response studies (BRS) are increasingly being conducted to better understand basic behavioral patterns in marine animals and how underwater sounds, including from human sources, can affect them. These studies are being enabled and enhanced by advances in both acoustic sensing and transmission technologies. In the design of a 5-year project in southern California ("SOCAL-BRS"), the development of a compact, hand-deployable, ship-powered, 15-element vertical line array sound source enabled a fundamental change in overall project configuration from earlier efforts. The reduced size and power requirements of the sound source, which achieved relatively high output levels and directivity characteristics specified in the experimental design, enabled the use of substantially smaller research vessels. This size reduction favored a decentralization of field effort, with greater emphasis on mobile small boat operations capable of covering large areas to locate and tag marine mammals. These changes in configuration directly contributed to significant increases in tagging focal animals and conducting sound exposure experiments. During field experiments, received sound levels on tagged animals of several different species were within specified target ranges, demonstrating the efficacy of these new solutions to challenging field research problems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48-59
Number of pages12
JournalMarine Technology Society Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • transducer
  • marine mammals
  • behavioral response study
  • underwater sound
  • noise


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