Page 67 - Fall2019
P. 67

 Sound Perspectives
Sarah A. Marley
Institute of Marine Sciences University of Portsmouth Ferry Road Portsmouth, PO4 9LY United Kingdom
Micheal L. Dent
Department of Psychology University at Buffalo State University of New York (SUNY) B76 Park Hall Buffalo, New York 14260 USA
Ask an Acoustician: Sarah A. Marley
Meet Sarah A. Marley
This “Ask an Acoustician” essay features Sarah Marley. Sarah is finishing her first year as a lecturer in marine vertebrate zoology at the University of Portsmouth (Portsmouth, UK). Sarah completed her BSc (Hons) at the University of Aberdeen (Aberdeen, UK), her master’s degree at the Uni- versity of St Andrews (St Andrews, UK), and then her PhD in applied physics at Curtin Uni- versity (Perth, WA, Australia). She continued her postdoctoral research at Curtin University
 and the University of Western Australia (Perth) and served as an environmen- tal consultant for Environmental Resources Management ( before moving to the United Kingdom. Notably, Sarah is also an award-winning sci- ence communicator and has spoken at numerous science communication events around the globe. You can even see her in action on YouTube ( watch?v=rPGauMnFJsk). For examples of Sarah’s research (including the work she describes in this essay), see the Bibliography. I will let Sarah tell you the rest of her story.
A Conversation with Sarah A. Marley, in Her Words
Tell us about your work.
My research primarily focuses on bioacoustics and marine soundscapes. I have been studying marine mammals for over a decade, and acoustics allows me to investigate aspects of how these animals interact with each other, their environ- ment, and human activities. For example, I have spent several years studying coastal dolphins in Western Australia, in particular a small community of Indo- Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) in the Swan River. This river system flows through the state capital of Perth and experiences a range of anthropogenic activities. Many of these influence the underwater soundscape of the Swan River. Over the years, I have recorded noise underwater from recreational vessels, trans- port ferries, shoreline construction, vehicles and trains crossing bridges, and even Spice Girl songs from party cruises! My research revealed that the Swan River is composed of multiple acoustic habitats, with some areas being dominated by biological sounds (like fishes or snapping shrimp) and other areas being noisier due to anthropogenic sounds. It might be reasonable to assume that the dolphins might avoid sites prone to man-made noise. But, in fact, we found that dolphins would spend long periods, sometimes over three hours at a time, foraging in one of the noisiest sites. Of course, just because an animal does not leave an area does not mean that there is no disturbance. And, indeed, closer examina- tion revealed some subtle changes in dolphin behavior. During periods of high vessel traffic, dolphins traveled at faster speeds and spent less time resting or socializing. We also found that the characteristics of dolphin communication whistles changed during “noisy” periods, with whistles typically becoming longer in duration and covering a wider frequency range. Interestingly, although these
©2019 Acoustical Society of America. All rights reserved. volume 15, issue 3 | Fall 2019 | Acoustics Today | 67

   65   66   67   68   69