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Abstract: To determine the frequency-dependent susceptibility of California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) to noise-induced temporary hearing threshold shift (TTS), one of two subjects were exposed for 60 minutes to two continuous one-sixth-octave noise bands (NBs) as fatiguing sounds: one centered at 0.6 kHz, at sound pressure levels (SPLs) of 168 to 174 dB re 1 µPa (sound exposure levels [SELs] of 204 to 210 dB re 1 µPa2s), or one centered at 1 kHz, at SPLs of 144 to 159 dB re 1 µPa (SELs of 180 to 195 dB re 1 µPa2s). Using a psychoacoustic technique, TTSs were quantified at 0.6, 0.85, 1, 1.2, 1.4, and 2 kHz (at the center frequency of each NB, half an octave higher, and one octave higher). When significant TTS occurred, higher SELs resulted in greater TTSs. In the sea lion that was tested 1 to 4 minutes after exposure to the fatiguing sounds, the largest TTSs occurred when the hearing test frequency was half an octave higher than the center frequency of the two fatiguing sounds. The highest TTS levels elicited were 8.7 dB at 0.85 kHz and 9.6 dB at 1.4 kHz. When their hearing was tested at the same time after the fatiguing sounds stopped, initial TTSs and hearing recovery patterns were similar in both sea lions. These findings will contribute to the protection of hearing of species in the Otariidae family from anthropogenic noise by facilitating the development of an evidence-based underwater sound weighting function.
Key Words: anthropogenic noise, audiogram, auditory weighting, fatiguing sound, hearing damage, hearing recovery, hearing sensitivity, Otariidae, pinniped, TTS
Page Numbers: 248-265
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