Report of the Sonar Session

Lam, F.P.A.1*, Southall, B.L.2*, Von Benda-Beckmann, A.M.1

1      TNO Acoustics & Underwater Warfare, Oude Waalsdorperweg 63, NL-2597 AK The Hague
2      Southall Environmental Associates, Inc Duke University Marine Laboratory, 9099 Soquel Dr., Aptos, CA 95076

* Session Chairs and Corresponding Authors; E-mail:

This report can be referenced as: Lam, F.P.A., Southall, B.L., and Von Benda-Beckmann, A.M. (2023). Report of the Sonar Session, OCEANOISE2023, Vilanova i la Geltrú, Barcelona, Spain, 22-26 May. Retrieved from



In this brief session on Tuesday 23 May 2023 three papers were presented:

  1. BRS overview and historical perspective (Southall)
  2. The 3S-project (Sea Mammals & Sonar Safety): BRS results, current trends and future outlook (Lam)
  3. Quantifying the environmental footprint of naval sonar operations (Von Benda-Beckmann)

 The logic of the session was to provide an overview and historic background first, followed by an example of the ongoing research by the 3S-project, and concluded by possible application of the research for actual sonar operations.

Round table

The following topics have been discussed at the round table discussion:

  • What are consequences of disturbance on individual and population level?
  • What contextual factors (such as food availability, distance) affect the responsiveness of marine mammals to sonar.
  • Do animals respond different to operational sources, or operational duration of activities?
  • How do animals respond to novel sonar sounds, such as continuous active sonar?


  • Curé et al. (2021) Severity Scoring of Behavioral Responses of Sperm Whales (Physeter macrocephalus) to Novel Continuous versus Conventional Pulsed Active Sonar. J. Mar. Sci. Eng. 2021, 9,
  • Isojunno et al. (2020) When the noise goes on: received sound energy predicts sperm whale responses to both intermittent and continuous navy sonar. J. Exp Biol. 223, jeb219741. doi:10.1242/jeb.219741
  • Harris et al. (2017) Marine mammals and sonar: dose-response studies, the risk-disturbance hypothesis and the role of exposure context. Journal of Applied Ecology 2017: 1-9. DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.12955
  • Sivle et al. (2015) Severity of expert-identified behavioural responses of humpback whale, minke whale and northern bottlenose whale to naval sonar. Aquatic Mammals41(4): 469-502 DOI 10.1578/AM.41.4.2015.469
  • Southall et al. (2016) Experimental field studies to measure behavioural responses of cetaceans to sonar. Endangered Species Research. 31:293-315 doi:10.3354/esr00764