Underwater Noise Model

Recent advances in computerized underwater noise models have enabled accurate prediction of sound levels in the ocean from large numbers of vessels. A landmark computer modeling study examined yearly cumulative noise levels from all shipping activity over a large area off B.C.’s coast. That study used generalized vessel densities with relatively low spatial and temporal resolution data that excluded several vessel classes including recreational boats, thus limiting its suitability for accurate assessment of cumulative noise effects on marine mammals. With better (e.g., higher resolution) vessel movement data (a need also recognised for oil spill risk), and using advanced computer noise models, it is possible to predict accurate underwater noise levels at resolutions sufficient for examining effects on local marine mammal populations. The Automatic Identification System (AIS) has facilitated the acquisition of fine scale large vessel movements from which noise exposure can be assessed.

Building on outcomes from the vessel traffic modeling, we will focus on (1) S-AIS as an index of vessel traffic and associated noise, and (2) monitoring and modeling ship associated cumulative noise exposure on marine mammals.

Research Team

  • Rosaline Canessa, University of Victoria
  • Francis Juanes, University of Victoria
  • Steve Inlsey, Wildlife Conservation Society Canada


  • Department of Fisheries and Oceans
  • WWF Canada
  • Port of Metro Vancouver
  • Oceans Network Canada