Sivle L. D.

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L. D.

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  • Article
    Changes in dive behavior during naval sonar exposure in killer whales, long-finned pilot whales, and sperm whales
    (Frontiers Media, 2012-10-11) Sivle, L. D. ; Kvadsheim, P. H. ; Fahlman, Andreas ; Lam, F. P. A. ; Tyack, Peter L. ; Miller, Patrick J. O.
    Anthropogenic underwater sound in the environment might potentially affect the behavior of marine mammals enough to have an impact on their reproduction and survival. Diving behavior of four killer whales (Orcinus orca), seven long-finned pilot whales (Globicephala melas), and four sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) was studied during controlled exposures to naval sonar [low frequency active sonar (LFAS): 1–2 kHz and mid frequency active sonar (MFAS): 6–7 kHz] during three field seasons (2006–2009). Diving behavior was monitored before, during and after sonar exposure using an archival tag placed on the animal with suction cups. The tag recorded the animal's vertical movement, and additional data on horizontal movement and vocalizations were used to determine behavioral modes. Killer whales that were conducting deep dives at sonar onset changed abruptly to shallow diving (ShD) during LFAS, while killer whales conducting deep dives at the onset of MFAS did not alter dive mode. When in ShD mode at sonar onset, killer whales did not change their diving behavior. Pilot and sperm whales performed normal deep dives (NDD) during MFAS exposure. During LFAS exposures, long-finned pilot whales mostly performed fewer deep dives and some sperm whales performed shallower and shorter dives. Acoustic recording data presented previously indicates that deep diving (DD) is associated with feeding. Therefore, the observed changes in dive behavior of the three species could potentially reduce the foraging efficiency of the affected animals.
  • Article
    Estimated tissue and blood N2 levels and risk of decompression sickness in deep-, intermediate-, and shallow-diving toothed whales during exposure to naval sonar
    (Frontiers Media, 2012-05-10) Kvadsheim, P. H. ; Miller, Patrick J. O. ; Tyack, Peter L. ; Sivle, L. D. ; Lam, F. P. A. ; Fahlman, Andreas
    Naval sonar has been accused of causing whale stranding by a mechanism which increases formation of tissue N2 gas bubbles. Increased tissue and blood N2 levels, and thereby increased risk of decompression sickness (DCS), is thought to result from changes in behavior or physiological responses during diving. Previous theoretical studies have used hypothetical sonar-induced changes in both behavior and physiology to model blood and tissue N2 tension (PN2), but this is the first attempt to estimate the changes during actual behavioral responses to sonar. We used an existing mathematical model to estimate blood and tissue N2 tension (PN2) from dive data recorded from sperm, killer, long-finned pilot, Blainville’s beaked, and Cuvier’s beaked whales before and during exposure to Low- (1–2 kHz) and Mid- (2–7 kHz) frequency active sonar. Our objectives were: (1) to determine if differences in dive behavior affects risk of bubble formation, and if (2) behavioral- or (3) physiological responses to sonar are plausible risk factors. Our results suggest that all species have natural high N2 levels, with deep diving generally resulting in higher end-dive PN2 as compared with shallow diving. Sonar exposure caused some changes in dive behavior in both killer whales, pilot whales and beaked whales, but this did not lead to any increased risk of DCS. However, in three of eight exposure session with sperm whales, the animal changed to shallower diving, and in all these cases this seem to result in an increased risk of DCS, although risk was still within the normal risk range of this species. When a hypothetical removal of the normal dive response (bradycardia and peripheral vasoconstriction), was added to the behavioral response during model simulations, this led to an increased variance in the estimated end-dive N2 levels, but no consistent change of risk. In conclusion, we cannot rule out the possibility that a combination of behavioral and physiological responses to sonar have the potential to alter the blood and tissue end-dive N2 tension to levels which could cause DCS and formation of in vivo bubbles, but the actually observed behavioral responses of cetaceans to sonar in our study, do not imply any significantly increased risk of DCS.