Photo credit: Jeremy Bishop
by Arline L. Bronzaft, Ph.D., Board of Directors, GrowNYC, Co-founder, The Quiet Coalition, and Honorary Chair, Quiet American Skies
Here is another study that not only highlights how noisy the oceans are now but also predicts that they will be far louder by the year 2100. This study was headed up by Luca Possenti, an oceanographer at the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research.
So what does this mean for the species who live in the ocean? The entire ecosystem of the ocean will be changed in a way that will make life more difficult for underwater fish and mammals because they need to hear each other in order to communicate. Fish may also be less likely to hear their predators and as a result, be more susceptible to death.
The researchers are not depending on theoretical studies. They are conducting studies that involve actual measurements of underwater sounds that are similar to the ones that sea mammals use. The researchers go on to let us know that they are not yet confident about how underwater conditions affect the speed of sound and stress that this knowledge is extremely important.
It’s no surprise that the change in ocean sound levels has been brought about by the growing number of ships in our oceans today. Thus, the changes in the sounds of the sea can be attributed to human-generated noise. This article also explains that shifting ocean temperatures play into how sound travels underwater. Colder surface water creates a “separate sound channel” and sound can travel longer distances. A change in temperature also can increase sound levels in the water.
I would say kudos to Possenti and his associates for conducting these important studies. I would hope the warnings emanating from these studies will lead to action that protects other species with whom humans share the earth.