Ocean Noise Tools


The Ocean Noise Strategy supports NOAA’s development of decision support tools for assessment, planning and mitigation of noise-making activities over ecologically-relevant scales.

NOAA Noise Reference StationsNOAA Noise Reference Station Thumbnail

Since 2014, this unique network of hydrophones has been collecting continuous, comparable long-term acoustic data sets covering all major regions of the U.S. in order to monitor long-term changes and trends in the underwater ambient sound field. Recordings from this network serve as a cornerstone dataset in the establishment of the passive acoustic data archive described below. Information from the network is supporting national comparison of noise status and trends [Haver et al., 2018; Haver et al., 2019; Haver et al., 2020]

SanctSoundFish surrounding a hydrophone

Since 2018, NOAA and the U.S. Navy have been working to better understand underwater sound within US National Marine Sanctuaries. All recording data and standardized measurements derived from these recordings will be available to the public to explore via an interactive web portal at project’s end in spring 2022. Until then, web stories from the project are a good way to keep up with the way this project is informing understanding and management of underwater noise in National Marine Sanctuaries.

Passive Acoustic Data ArchivePAM Data Archive Map Viewer

Passive acoustic data are used broadly across NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Ocean Service (NOS), and Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) line offices for a wide range of activities central to NOAA’s mission including marine mammal stock assessments, monitoring of earthquake and geological activity, and assessing impacts of anthropogenic noise on marine life.  The National Centers for Environmental Information and NOAA line offices have collaborated to create a publicly accessible archive for passive acoustic data from a number of sources throughout government and academia.

Passive Acoustic Cetacean MapPassive Acoustic Cetacean Map

This interactive mapping tool presents passive acoustic detections of North Atlantic right, sei, fin, blue and humpback whales as well as all beaked whales, sperm whales, and kogia from 2004 to current. 


Marine Mammal Data AvailabilityHumpback Whales

Current marine mammal density, distribution, and occurrence data are provided by regions of the US Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). An interactive geospatial tool allows for the quantitative integration, analysis, and depiction of specific marine mammal density datasets available for the USEEZ and beyond.

Biologically Important AreasBiologically Important Areas

Biologically Important Areas (BIAs) represent areas and times in which cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises) are known to concentrate for activities related to reproduction, feeding, and migration, as well as the known ranges of small and resident populations. BIAs are compilations of the best available science and may be used by NOAA, other federal agencies, and the public to support analyses and decisions, as appropriate, for the purposes of environmental planning, compliance, and protection. BIAs have no inherent or direct regulatory power. BIAs have been updated in 2023 using new methods and scoring protocols that improve the utility, interpretability, and consistency of the BIAs by designating an overall Importance Score for each BIA.

Interactive GIS Tool for MMPA Incidental Take AuthorizationsGIS Mapping Tool

This interactive mapping tool provides access to point data to visualize the general location, type, and status of Marine Mammal Protection Act incidental take authorizations. Additional layers to assist in understanding the context of the projects are provided.

Other Tools