Underwater vessel noise in a commercial and tourist bay complex in the Mexican Central Pacific

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David A Rosales-Chapula
Christian D Ortega-Ortiz
Myriam Llamas-González
Aramis Olivos-Ortiz
Ernesto Torres-Orozco
Braulio Leon-Lopez
Eduardo Romero-Vivas

Abstract

Noise generated by ship traffic is increasing around the world. Hence, there is need to effectively evaluate anthropogenic noise levels in marine habitats. In this study, the noise contribution of ships in the Santiago–Manzanillo bay complex, on the Pacific coast of central Mexico, was assessed. The semienclosed bay complex is one of the most important commercial ports in Mexico, and it is an area with high biological richness and tourism demand, including demand by the informal humpback whale watching industry. Bottom-fixed recording systems were deployed at the entrance to the bay, near the commercial port (Manzanillo Bay), and within the tourist area (Santiago Bay). Monthly acoustic records were obtained from September 2015 to August 2016. Boat categories confirmed by visual sightings were associated with their acoustic signals. According to the diagnostic frequency range, vessel noise was classified into noise coming from large ships (50–220 Hz) or from small vessels (290–500 Hz). Large ships were always detected at both stations, while, as expected, small vessels were more common in tourist areas. Vessel noise in the entire area ranged from 130 to 170 dB (RMS re 1 μPa) and was present up to a median of 81.8% of the time throughout the year, with higher prevalence from 1200 to 1600 hours. Marine traffic activities were constant in the area, but frequency content and sound pressure levels were not equally distributed across the bay. Therefore, it is important to consider the possible differential impacts on marine fauna inhabiting the area.

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Rosales-Chapula, D. A., Ortega-Ortiz, C. D., Llamas-González, M., Olivos-Ortiz, A., Torres-Orozco, E., Leon-Lopez, B., & Romero-Vivas, E. (2022). Underwater vessel noise in a commercial and tourist bay complex in the Mexican Central Pacific. Ciencias Marinas, 48(1), 1–15. https://doi.org/10.7773/cm.y2022.3214
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