Auditory and behavioral responses of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) and a beluga whale (Delphinapterus leucas) to impulsive sounds resembling distant signatures of underwater explosions

J Acoust Soc Am. 2000 Jul;108(1):417-31. doi: 10.1121/1.429475.


A behavioral response paradigm was used to measure masked underwater hearing thresholds in two bottlenose dolphins and one beluga whale before and after exposure to impulsive underwater sounds with waveforms resembling distant signatures of underwater explosions. An array of piezoelectric transducers was used to generate impulsive sounds with waveforms approximating those predicted from 5 or 500 kg HBX-1 charges at ranges from 1.5 to 55.6 km. At the conclusion of the study, no temporary shifts in masked-hearing thresholds (MTTSs), defined as a 6-dB or larger increase in threshold over pre-exposure levels, had been observed at the highest impulse level generated (500 kg at 1.7 km, peak pressure 70 kPa); however, disruptions of the animals' trained behaviors began to occur at exposures corresponding to 5 kg at 9.3 km and 5 kg at 1.5 km for the dolphins and 500 kg at 1.9 km for the beluga whale. These data are the first direct information regarding the effects of distant underwater explosion signatures on the hearing abilities of odontocetes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Dolphins / physiology
  • Sound*
  • Vocalization, Animal / physiology*
  • Water
  • Whales / physiology


  • Water