Eavesdropping on the Kaipara Harbour: characterising underwater soundscapes within a seagrass bed and a subtidal mudflatNew Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research

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Authors
MK Pine, CA Radford, AG Jeffs
Year
2015
DOI
10.1080/00288330.2015.1009916
Subject
Ecology / Aquatic Science / Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics / Water Science and Technology

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Eavesdropping on the Kaipara Harbour: characterising underwater soundscapes within a seagrass bed and a subtidal mudflat

MK Pinea, CA Radforda & AG Jeffsa a Leigh Marine Laboratory, Institute of Marine Science, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

Published online: 21 Apr 2015.

To cite this article: MK Pine, CA Radford & AG Jeffs (2015) Eavesdropping on the Kaipara Harbour: characterising underwater soundscapes within a seagrass bed and a subtidal mudflat, New Zealand

Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, 49:2, 247-258, DOI: 10.1080/00288330.2015.1009916

To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00288330.2015.1009916

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RESEARCH ARTICLE

Eavesdropping on the Kaipara Harbour: characterising underwater soundscapes within a seagrass bed and a subtidal mudflat

MK Pine*, CA Radford and AG Jeffs

Leigh Marine Laboratory, Institute of Marine Science, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand (Received 17 August 2014; accepted 20 December 2014)

With considerable commercial interest in renewable energy production in estuarine environments, there is a critical need to better understand ambient sound from these habitats. This study investigated the ambient sound from two sites of differing habitats within the Kaipara Harbour, a site previously allocated for tidal turbine development. Analyses revealed highest sound levels occurring in autumn (120 ? 0.6 dBrms re 1 ?Pa) and summer (117 ? 0.6 dBrms re 1 ?Pa) within the seagrass-dominated and mudflat sites respectively. There was significant temporal variation over a 24 h period in measured sound levels both between and within the two estuarine sites, with higher sound levels generally occurring at dawn within either site. Spectral analysis revealed a rise in spectral power in the 2?4 kHz and 6?9 kHz bandwidths during dawn and dusk periods within the seagrass-dominated and mudflat sites respectively. With most acoustic energy residing in low frequencies, underwater turbine sound may mask estuarine soundscapes, thereby potentially disrupting important ecological processes.

Keywords: acoustics; anthropogenic sound; ecological impact; estuary; Kaipara; renewable energy; tidal turbines; underwater sound

Introduction

The environmental impacts of wind and tidal turbines deployed in coastal waters are poorly understood, despite increasing numbers of these renewable energy generation projects. Several countries are planning to develop large-scale turbine farms in coastal habitats, particularly in estuaries (Pelc & Fujita 2002; Dolman et al. 2007). The

KaiparaHarbour is the largest estuary in the southern hemisphere with an area of approximately 947 km2 and 900 km of coastline (Heath 1975; Sim-Smith et al. 2012). The harbour is also relatively remote with little vessel activity and other underwater anthropogenic sound sources. Recently, it has become a proposed site for up to 200 tidal turbines (Argo 2006). During a spring tide, currents within the estuary can reach 2 m s?1 with a tidal exchange of approximately 1.99 ? 109 m3 of water (Argo 2006).

The sound levels produced by tidal turbines are estimated to be 166?175 dBrms re 1 ?Pa @ 1 m (Lloyd et al. 2011) at frequencies ranging from 100 Hz to 8000 Hz under a maximum tidal flow of 3 m s?1 (Parvin et al. 2005). Commonly identified potential impacts from loud anthropogenic sound are habitat loss and habitat exclusion, hearing loss, acoustic masking, disruption of behaviours and increased stress in marine animals (Dolman et al. 2007; Inger et al. 2009; Slabbekoorn et al. 2010; Pine et al. 2012). It is also known that natural underwater sound is an important orientation and settlement cue for a wide range of ecologically important fishes (Simpson et al. 2005, 2011;Montgomery et al. 2006;

Mann et al. 2007; Radford et al. 2011), coral (Vermeij et al. 2010) and crustaceans (Jeffs et al. 2003, 2005; Radford et al. 2007; Stanley et al. 2010;

Pine et al. 2012). *Corresponding author. Email: matt.pine@auckland.ac.nz

New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, 2015

Vol. 49, No. 2, 247?258, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00288330.2015.1009916 ? 2015 The Royal Society of New Zealand

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