Report of the Behaviour Session

Whyte, K.1*, Širović, A.2*, de Jong, K.3, Kok, A.4, Ravignani, A.5, Rojano-Doñate, L.6, Southall, B.7, Waddell, E.8

1      Biomathematics and Statistics Scotland (BioSS), UK
2      Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway
3      Institute of Marine Research, Norway
4      University of Groningen, The Netherlands
5      Sapienza University of Rome, Italy
6      Aarhus University, Denmark
7      Southall Environmental Associates, USA
8      Texas A&M University at Galveston, USA

* Session Chairs and Corresponding Authors; E-mail:

This report can be referenced as: Whyte, K., Širović, A., de Jong, K., Kok, A., Ravignani, A., Rojano-Doñate, L., Southall, B., and Waddell, E. (2023). Report of the Behaviour Session, OCEANOISE2023, Vilanova i la Geltrú, Barcelona, Spain, 22-26 May. Retrieved from




This session was not targeted at a single sound source, modelling, or management aspect, but instead focussed on the biological behaviours of marine and aquatic animals that encounter noise in their environment. The talks covered current research on behavioural responses to sound in a variety of fish and marine mammal taxa as, unfortunately and despite our best efforts, we were not able to secure any speakers to discuss any studies relating to invertebrate groups.


Session Talks

Karen de Jong: Time to talk. A case for including behavioural complexity into management
Brandon Southall: Behavioral responses of Cuvier’s beaked whales to simulated military sonar
Emily Waddell: Effects of anthropogenic noise and natural soundscape on larval fish behavior in four estuarine species
Andrea Ravignani: Noise-induced vocal plasticity in harbour seal pups
Laia Rojano-Doñate: Vessel noise exposure impacts harbour porpoise energy balance
Annebelle Kok: Environmental influences on calling behaviour of midshipman fish

Open issues to address

How can we continue to build from understanding of short-term behavioural reactions, to understanding long-term behaviours and potential population-level impacts? What are the biggest barriers?

What next steps do we need to take in understanding what aspects of sound cues (sound level, frequency-weightings, rise times, temporal characteristics, etc.) are the most important drivers in how animals interpret and respond to sound?

Given the many different exposure contexts that occur, how can the complexity and context-dependencies of behavioural responses be realistically and effectively incorporated into management?

Is a precautionary approach to managing behavioural responses to sound the best way to proceed? When might this not be appropriate?

What are the potential (hidden) impacts of habituation and tolerance to underwater noise?

Can (and do) animals compensate for behavioural changes after a disturbance event, and what costs do they incur from such compensation activities?

Can we find tests/metrics usable for and suitable to cross-species research?

How can we best understand the relationships between behavioural and physiological responses?

How do we address the effect of multiple stressors?