The National Science and Technology Council’s Committee on the Environment, Natural Resources, and Sustainability (CENRS) established the Subcommittee on Ocean Science and Technology (SOST) in 2013. The SOST’s purpose is to advise CENRS on national issues of ocean science and technology and to serve as the lead interagency entity for federal coordination on those matters. In 2014, the SOST authorized the establishment of an Interagency Task Force on Ocean Noise and Marine Life (ITF-ONML) to increase coordination and communication across federal agencies in addressing issues related to the potential impacts of anthropogenic noise on marine life.
In 2017, the member agencies of the SOST ITF-ONML proposed to use the ITF as a mechanism to help identify immediate, cross-agency research needs and to support improved collaboration on interagency research investments. Under the auspices of the SOST ITF-ONML, the Chief of Naval Operations Energy and Environment Readiness Division, Office of Naval Research, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Marine Mammal Commission partnered to jointly fund research on the auditory capabilities of mysticete whales.
The SOST ITF-ONML issued a call for proposals via the LMR program in July 2018 pertaining to development of audiograms for mysticetes. Details regarding the call for proposals are below.
SOST ITF-ONML 2018 Call for Proposals
The solicitation period for this announcement ended on 31 August 2018.
Following careful review and discussion by members of the review committee, three projects that covered a variety of methods were funded to increase the chance of success in obtaining data to address the need topic. A summary and fact sheet for each project are below.
The objective of this project is to collect auditory evoked potential (AEP) hearing thresholds for one mysticete species, the minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata). This method involves measuring small voltages that the brain and auditory nervous system generate in response to sound. The minke AEP hearing thresholds will provide the first direct measurement of hearing in a mysticete, which will contribute to the development of a mysticete audiogram.
The objective of this project is to use behavioral response experiments as a proxy for audiometric measurements to estimate hearing sensitivity in humpback whales. The researchers will play a range of tones to migrating humpback whales at frequencies across their expected hearing range and will observe their behavioral response to develop an audiogram.
The objective of this project is to investigate whether bone conduction is a valid pathway for hearing in mysticetes as previously reported by this team. The investigators will use a combination of finite element model simulations and two interdependent lab experiments designed to measure the transmission of sound vibrations from the water into the skull and hearing apparatus of a gray whale (stranded specimen).