Active acoustic sensors are widely used in oceanographic and environmental studies. Although many have nominal operating frequencies above the range of marine mammal hearing, they can produce out-of-band sound that may be audible to marine mammals. Acoustic emissions from four active acoustic transducers were characterized and compared to marine mammal hearing thresholds. All four transducers had nominal operating frequencies above the reported upper limit of marine mammal hearing, but produced measurable sound below 160 kHz. A spatial map of the acoustic emissions of each sonar is used to evaluate potential effects on marine mammal hearing when the transducer is continuously operated from a stationary platform. Based on the cumulative sound exposure level metric, the acoustic emissions from the transducers are unlikely to cause temporary threshold shifts in marine mammals, but could affect animal behavior. The extent of audibility is estimated to be, at most, on the order of 100 m.
Cotter, E., Murphy, P., Bassett, C., Williamson, B., & Polagye, B. (2019). Acoustic Characterization of Sensors used for Marine Environmental Monitoring. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 144, 205-215. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2019.04.079