Measuring noise and light in the Swan River

Measuring noise and light in the Swan River

Status: Complete


  • Lucille Chapuis
    Research Fellow, Centre for Offshore Foundation System, UWA
  • Shaun Collin
    Adjunct Professor, Oceans Graduate School, UWA
  • Julian Partridge
    Associate Professor, Oceans Institute, UWA

Project Summary

We first identified specific locations along the river, representing both highly populated and wilder hotspots. The sampling was based on seasonal variations of natural cycles (for example reproductive cycles) and of anthropogenic sources (for example boat traffic). A preliminary dataset was constructed by measuring sounds with hydrophones and lights with spectroradiometers. The data was calibrated, filtered to separate natural and anthropogenic sources, and analysed in the temporal and frequency domain. Once the sampling regime was in place, we overlapped the data with long-term biological observations from public and government knowledge.

This project then integrated into teaching units and Honours research projects in the School of Animal Biology at The University of Western Australia.

Ultimately, the study aimed to assess the impact of noise and light on estuarine life.

Project updates

Equipment arrival and deployment plans

After receiving our first instrument to measure sounds underwater, we proceeded with the first deployment. The SoundTrap (image below) is a self-contained sound recorder which was left on the river bed for a few days/weeks. It recorded the soundscape including all its different components:geophysical, biological and anthropogenic sounds. We deployed the SoundTrap in different locations of the Swan River and investigated the differences in the soundscapes.