THE CETACUSTIC PROJECT IS PRESENTED

Cartagena, 11 July 2019 - The CETACUSTIC project was presented this morning. It is an initiative of the Port Authority of Cartagena and is flagged by the CROEM, as well as having the support of the Biodiversity Foundation of the Ministry for the Ecological Transition.

At the opening of the conference the vice president of the APC, Pedro Pablo Hernandez, indicated the importance of these studies due to the fact "the Port of Cartagena has among its objectives that of being one of the most sustainable in the Mediterranean, on the one hand, but is also aware of the importance of cruise ship tourism at local and regional level.”

Carrying out studies to find out how port activity affects habitats is essential for the APC "this is a valuable experience that shows results and contributions that will allow us to lay the foundations to address, in the immediate future, solutions to issues such as underwater noise pollution" concluded Hernandez.

The project consisted of carrying out a study, drawn up by Javier Gilabert and José Luis Sancho, lecturers at the UPCT, to determine the interaction between cruise ship tourism and cetaceans in the protected environment of the ZEC ES6200048 of the Port of Cartagena-Escarpe de Mazarrón Underwater Valleys of the Natura 2000 Network. With the results obtained, guidelines have been proposed for the management of cruise ship tourism in order to minimise the acoustic effect on cetaceans.

In order to carry out the study, the noise from four passenger ships representing the different cruise ships that called at the Port of Cartagena during the months of May to September 2018 was recorded. The ships were grouped in two categories according to the number of passengers. The first with capacity for more than 3,000 passengers, Britannia and Celebrity Reflection and the second, with less than 500 passengers, Wind Surf and Seadream I. The project has been undertaken by measurements carried out using a hydrophone located at a sampling point closest to the route of the ships, specifically south west of the beach of Cala Cortina. More than 2,000 minutes of recording were obtained. The work has been divided into several phases; the initial phase has been funded and developed by APC, and subsequent phases, within the grant of the Biodiversity Foundation.

Subsequently, the data was processed, which allowed:

  • The characterisation and evaluation of the underwater noise produced by the four cruise ships selected during approach and departure manoeuvres of the Port of Cartagena.
  • The evaluation of the possible impacts that cruise ship tourism may have on cetaceans based on data provided by the scientific community.

 The evaluation of the possible impacts that cruise ship tourism may have on cetaceans based on data provided by the scientific community.

The following results are derived from this characterisation and evaluation:

  • The sound source due to the cruise ships taken into account does not exceed, in any case, the limits found in the bibliography regarding impacts of TTS (temporary hearing loss), PTS (permanent hearing loss) and behavioural changes (flight) of cetaceans. 
  • Only a certain impact of auditory masking is certified, due to the fact that the frequencies of the sound of the cruise ship overlap with part of the frequencies used by the cetaceans to carry out communication, location and navigation tasks, mainly in low and medium frequencies (LF and MF cetaceans), which may make some of these activities difficult for them. This type of impact is considered by scientists to be the least damaging to cetaceans.

 Only a certain impact of auditory masking is certified, due to the fact that the frequencies of the sound of the cruise ship overlap with part of the frequencies used by the cetaceans to carry out communication, location and navigation tasks, mainly in low and medium frequencies (LF and MF cetaceans), which may make some of these activities difficult for them. This type of impact is considered by scientists to be the least damaging to cetaceans.