Discovery of Sound in the Sea: Effectively Using Webinars as a Tool for Informing Policy Makers and Other Stakeholders about Current Underwater Acoustics Research

Holly Morin1, Gail Scowcroft2, Kathleen J. Vigness-Raposa3, Christopher W Knowlton1, Darlene Ketten4, Arthur N. Popper5 and James Henry Miller6, (1)University of Rhode Island, Graduate School of Oceanography, Narragansett, RI, United States, (2)University of Rhode Island, Narragansett, RI, United States, (3)Marine Acoustics, Inc., 2 Corporate Place, Suite 105, Middletown, RI, United States, (4)Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA, United States, (5)University of Maryland, Dept. of Biology, 2225 BPS, College Park, MD, United States, (6)University of Rhode Island Narragansett Bay, Department of Ocean Engineering, Narragansett, RI, United States
Anthropogenic activities that produce underwater sound are subject to multiple regulations. The regulatory/decision-making community must often rapidly synthesize and incorporate research results in order to accurately assess potential impacts of proposed projects and adjust regulations accordingly. To assist decision makers in doing these assessments, the University of Rhode Island has teamed with Marine Acoustics, Inc. on the Discovery of Sound in the Sea (DOSITS) Project. The project’s foundation is an interactive website ( with over 400 content pages that synthesize evolving peer-reviewed scientific data, including content on sound sources, impacts on marine life, and how animals and people use sound underwater. The DOSITS website and its associated resources are updated semi-annually with newly published content, after reviews by a panel of scientists. DOSITS has conducted four needs assessment surveys of the decision-making community (2015-19). Assessment results led to the development of regulator prioritized and easily accessible content on underwater acoustics. A majority of survey respondents indicated that on-the-job training contributes significantly to their acoustics comprehension. Current DOSITS activities include webinars, which provide knowledge transfer between regulatory stakeholders, and marine scientists and engineers. Expert presentations are followed by real-time, interactive sessions which are recorded and archived on the DOSITS website. Prior webinars (2015, 2016, 2018) focused on underwater acoustics fundamentals, sound production and reception by marine mammals and fishes, and effects of sound on marine mammals and fishes. The 2019 webinars focused on sound sources, including wind turbines, pile driving, seismics, echosounders, sonar, and shipping. In addition to webinars, DOSITS online tutorials, instructional videos, and e-books address content prioritized by the needs assessments. This presentation will provide an overview of DOSITS needs assessments, webinar activities, and evaluation results.