Recreational boating traffic: a chronic source of anthropogenic noise in the Wilmington, North Carolina Intracoastal Waterway. Academic Article uri icon


  • The majority of attention on the impact of anthropogenic noise on marine mammals has focused on low-frequency episodic activities. Persistent sources of mid-frequency noise pollution are less well studied. To address this data gap, the contribution of 25 physical, biological and anthropogenic factors to the ambient noise levels in the Wilmington, North Carolina Intracoastal Waterway were analyzed using a principal components analysis and least squares regression. The total number of recreational vessels passing through the waterway per hour is the factor that had the single greatest influence on environmental noise levels. During times of high boat traffic, anthropogenic noise is continuous rather than episodic, and occurs at frequencies that are biologically relevant to bottlenose dolphins. As a daily part of resident bottlenose dolphins' acoustic environment, recreational boating traffic may represent a chronic source of acoustic harassment.

publication date

  • July 2007