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Date ArticleType
6/8/2017 Member News
Ocean News: Advancing the Science of Sound and Marine Life

Advancing the Science of Sound and Marine Life

Editorial by Gary H. Isaksen
ExxonMobile Exploration Company
Manager, Global Ocean Science & Policy
Manager, Arctic Sience & Policy


Our oceans host a variety of sounds. Some are generated from natural sources, such as breaking waves, plate tectonics, ice calving, whales, fish (e.g., croaker), and crustaceans (e.g., snapping and mantis shrimp). Other sounds are generated from human activities, such as vessel traffic, seismic surveys, pile driving, wind turbines, sea-bottom trawling, echo-sounders, and sonar.

Seismic surveys are used by governments (e.g., USGS and NOAA), academia, the wind industry, and the E&P industry. Sound waves in the oceans are integral to a range of mapping applications and the search for oil and gas. The E&P industry uses seismic technology to help determine where to drill. To do this, a seismic imaging tool sends sound waves from an exploration vessel to geologic formations below the ocean floor and the returning waves are used to create 3D images of sedimentary formations that may hold oil and gas.

In May 2006, several of the world’s leading oil and gas companies and industry associations embarked on a multimillion, multi-year joint industry program (JIP) to advance the scientific understanding of the effects of sound generated by offshore operations on marine mammals, fish, and reptiles.

Looking back over 11 years, the accomplishments of the many academic researchers funded by this JIP have not only advanced the science, but also built a reputation of scientific integrity for this program of academic-industry-government cooperation. The Sound and Marine Life JIP is the largest non-government funder of research on this topic. To date, the JIP member companies have provided $60 million in research funds to understand a broad range of marine sound issues and enabled marine mammal observations at sea in many areas where few data previously existed. Our policies stipulate that the research results be shared in public
reports and submitted to peer-reviewed scientific journals to ensure maximum transparency and value to the wider research, stakeholder, and regulatory communities.

Our partnerships have resulted in more than 30 reports and over 70 peer reviewed manuscripts published by independent scientists. Such results help inform regulators, policy makers, the regulated industries, and the scientific community.

Sound and Marine Life JIP research is divided into five complementary categories that allow the JIP to fully understand the issue and potential effects associated with underwater sound from E&P activities:

• Sound source characterisation and propagation

• Physical and physiological effects and hearing

• Behavioural reactions and biological significant effects

• Mitigation and monitoring

• Research tools

Don’t miss our article in the ON&T July digital issue. Rhonda J. Moniz, Editor of& ON&T, will highlight several scientific advancements made possible by the JIP, such as the large, multi-year humpback whale study by Curtin University, the University of Brisbane, and the University of Sydney; hearing among different species of Arctic seals by the University of California at Santa Cruz; and research into dolphin hearing by the U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program in San Diego.

Information about the research, final project reports, and a list of peer-reviewed publications are available at http://ww.soundandmarinelife.org.

View
full publication here. OpEd is on page 8.