The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America (2017)

DOI: 10.1121/1.4997907


To study intra-species variability in audiograms, the hearing sensitivity of a six-year-old female and a three-year-old male harbor porpoise was measured by using a standard psycho-acoustic technique under low ambient noise conditions. The porpoises’ hearing thresholds for 13 narrow-band sweeps with center frequencies between 0.125 and 150 kHz were established. The resulting audiograms were U-shaped and similar. The main difference (25 dB) in mean thresholds between the two porpoises was at the high-frequency end of the hearing range (at 150 kHz). Maximum sensitivity (47 dB re 1 μPa for the female and 44 dB re 1 μPa for the male) occurred at 125 kHz. The range of most sensitive hearing (defined as within 10 dB of maximum sensitivity) was from 16 to ~140 kHz. Sensitivity declined sharply above 125 kHz. All five porpoises for which a valid behavioral audiogram now exists were rehabilitated stranded animals, all were tested with similar psycho-acoustic techniques, and all had similar audiograms. The present study provides further evidence to confirm that the hearing range and sensitivity of the first three harbor porpoises, which have been used in secondary research and on which policy decisions have been based, are representative of those of young harbor porpoises in general.