Ambient noise and temporal patterns of boat activity in the US Virgin Islands National Park. Academic Article uri icon


  • Human activity is contributing increasing noise to marine ecosystems. Recent studies have examined the effects of boat noise on marine fishes, but there is limited understanding of the prevalence of this type of sound source. This investigation tracks vessel noise on three reefs in the US Virgin Islands National Park over four months in 2013. Ambient noise levels ranged from 106 to 129dBrms re 1?Pa (100Hz-20kHz). Boat noise occurred in 6-12% of samples. In the presence of boat noise, ambient noise in a low-frequency band (100-1000Hz) increased by >7dB above baseline levels and sound levels were significantly higher. The frequency with the most acoustic energy shifted to a significantly lower frequency when boat noise was present during the day. These results indicate the abundance of boat noise and its overlap with reef organism sound production, raising concern for the communication abilities of these animals.

publication date

  • September 15, 2015