correlational studies when precise relationships between acoustic stimuli and behavioral responses are obscure.
Researchers have addressed concerns that marine mammals might avoid intense sounds. Some census studies have towed hydrophones through areas with commercial seismic surveys. Rankin (1999) and Norris, et al. (2000) found no association between the signal-to-noise ratio of seismic impulses from airgun arrays and sighting rates of cetaceans, but they caution that their analysis was so crude that it was unable to detect changes in distribution of less than 100 km. Their study exemplifies the critical point that a reported lack of an effect must carefully specify the statistical power of a study to detect specific effects. Other studies sighting marine mammals closer to sound sources have found avoidance at several hundred to thousands of meters (e.g., Goold, 1996). And some studies have shown no displacements. Ringed seals (Phoca hispida) near an artificial-island drilling site were monitored before and during development of the site. Although in-air and underwater sound was audible to the seals for up to 5 km, there was no change in their density in that area between breeding seasons before and breeding seasons after development began (Moulton et al., 2003).
The last few decades have seen the development of experiments designed to study the causal relationship between exposure to sound and behavior. As Tyack et al. (2004) discuss, these controlled-exposure experiments (CEEs) are similar to playback experiments that are commonly used to study animal communication. The primary difference is that CEEs carefully titrate the acoustic exposure required to elicit a specific behavioral reaction. In few studies have responses of marine mammals been related to levels of anthropogenic sounds. Playback of sounds associated with oil-industry activities indicated a clear relationship between the received-sound pressure level and the probability that migrating gray whales will deviate from their migration path. For continuous sounds, about 50% of the whales avoided exposure to about 120 dB rms re 1 μPa; for short impulses from airguns (about 0.01 sec every 10 sec), 50% avoidance occurred at about 170 dB re 1 μPa (Malme et al., 1983, 1984; Tyack, 1998; airgun levels are average pulse pressures). Tyack and Clark (1998) replicated the earlier experiments of Malme and colleagues by using Surveillance Towed Array Sensor System-Low Frequency Active (SURTASS-LFA) sonar sounds transmitted for 42 sec every 6 min and found that course deflection occurred when the received levels were about 140 dB rms re 1 μPa. Not only was there a steady increase in avoidance with increasing received level of each