Swimming in noise

Photo credit: Christian Gloor licensed under CC BY 2.0

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

This delightful article in Nautilus discusses underwater acoustics, anthropogenic noise in the ocean, and its effect on marine life. It’s too wide ranging for me to summarize in a few sentences, but I highly recommend that you read it yourself. (Nautilus is a relatively new science magazine that publishes online and in print, covering science broadly and not devoted solely to marine subjects as might be suspected by its name.)

Marine biologist Heather Spence, who is featured in the article, was interested in snapping shrimp, small crustaceans that make a sound by snapping their claw so loud that it can be heard above the water.

The article discusses how sound is a primary means of communication and navigation for any underwater animal, as well as being used to find food or to avoid being eaten.

Unfortunately, anthropogenic noise has made the oceans intolerably loud.

A new international effort, the UN Ocean Decade Research Programme on the Marine Acoustic Environment will undertake to measure and understand physical, biological, and anthropogenic manifestations of sound in the ocean.

We look forward to seeing research from UN-MAE, because knowledge is good, but no more research needs to be done to know that a quieter world–even underwater–will be a better and healthier world for all.

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