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Cetaceans use sound in many contexts, such as in social interactions, as well as to forage and to react in dangerous situations. Little information exists to describe how they respond physically and behaviorally to intense and long-term noise levels. Effects on cetaceans from seismic survey activities need to be understood in order to determine detailed acoustic exposure guidelines and to apply appropriated mitigation measures. This study examines direct behavioral responses of cetaceans in the southern Mediterranean Sea during seismic surveys with large airgun arrays (volume up to 5200 ci) used in the TOMO-ETNA active seismic experiment of summer 2014. Wide Angle Seismic and Multi-Channel Seismic surveys had carried out with refraction and reflection seismic methods, producing about 25,800 air-gun shots. Visual monitoring undertaken in the 26 daylights of seismic exploration adopted the protocol of the Joint Nature Conservation Committee. Data recorded were analyzed to examine effects on cetaceans. Sighting rates, distance and orientation from the airguns were compared for different volume categories of the airgun arrays. Results show that cetaceans can be disturbed by seismic survey activities, especially during particularly events. Here we propose many integrated actions to further mitigate this exposure and implications for management.
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