Noise pollution is a menace to humanity and a threat to marine life

Photo credit: Francesco Ungaro

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

This opinion piece in the UK’s Guardian emphasizes how bad noise is for plants and animals living in the ocean. As author Karen Bakker, director of the University of British Columbia’s Program on Water Governance and the author of “The Sounds of Life: How Digital Technology is Bringing Us Closer to the Worlds of Animals and Plants,” tells us, noise is bad for humans (something we unfortunately already know) and worse for animals living in the ocean.

Why worse for animals living in the ocean? Because sound travels better in water than in air, oceans are dark starting not too far beneath the surface, marine mammals and fish have very sensitive hearing and vibration senses used for finding food and for communication. Worldwide research documents that anthropogenic noise pollution is bad for animals living underwater.

And noise pollution also damages plants. As Bakker notes, marine grasses are important protectors of coastlines, carbon sinks for carbon dioxide produced by fossil fuel use, and nurseries and hunting grounds for many marine species. New research shows that certain types of noise damage even plants.

A quieter world will be a better and healthier world for all, including plants and animals in the oceans.

Thanks to Arnold Gordon in Connecticut for bringing this article to our attention.

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