The Hauraki Gulf, a shallow embayment in north-eastern New Zealand, provides an interesting environment for ecological soundscape research. It is situated on a tectonic plate boundary, contains one of the busiest ports in the southern hemisphere and is home to a diverse range of soniferous animals. The underwater soundscape was monitored for spatial and temporal trends at six different listening stations using passive acoustic recorders. The RMS sound pressure level of ambient sound (50-24,000 Hz) at the six listening stations was similar, ranging from 90-110 dB re 1 μPa throughout the recording period. Biophony had distinct temporal patterns and biological choruses of urchins were significantly correlated to temperature. Geophony and biophony followed the acoustic niche hypothesis, where each sound exhibited both temporal and frequency partitioning. Vessel passage sound were identified in 1.9-35.2% of recordings from the different listening stations. Vessel sound recorded in the Hauraki Gulf has the potential to mask concurrent geophony and biophony, sounds that may be important to marine life. This study provides a baseline of ambient sound, useful for future management strategies in shallow embayments where anthropogenic pressure is likewise increasing.
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