June 5, 2015 1:32 am

Researchers study impact of different noises on well-being of cetaceans

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WATCH: Reporter Linda Aylesworth explains how the Vancouver Aquarium is researching how the ocean’s largest creatures hear and might some day change the way ocean going ships are built.

Two U.S. researchers are currently at the Vancouver Aquarium, studying what types of sounds have an effect on cetaceans.

“We know a little bit about what these guys can hear, but there hasn’t been a great deal of work on the impacts of those different noises,” syas Jason Mulsow, a National Marine Mammal Foundation researcher.

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Cetaceans use a complicated sonar system through their jaws to hear, and Mulsow and James Finneran are testing on Aquarium animals with a unique method.

“We’re putting the sound source on different sides of their head, and looking at the individual responses of each ear that are generated by the nerves,” says Mulsow.

READ MORE: Pacific Wild is placing underwater microphones on B.C.’s Central Coast

The information they gather could be used in many ways, from assessing hearing damage in beached whales, to how ships are built.

“It can’t be accomplished anywhere else but this kind of environment, to really kind of ask these basic questions that will lead us down the road of understanding the effects of noise on cetaceans,” says Mulsow.

“This is pretty basic work at this point. We’re not at the level of saying how is noise going to affect these animals, but this is really critical work at the ground level.”

– With files from Linda Aylesworth

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