I’ve been reading a little about ‘acoustic smog’ and its affect on marine life within our oceans.
Acoustic smog is basically another way of saying ‘noise pollution’. In particular, it is a term often used to describe the noise in our oceans that come from man-made sources. This typically includes sources such as:
The Impact of Acoustic Smog on Nature
It seems that acoustic smog could be having a devastating affect on the whales, dolpins, and other mammals in our oceans. Sound plays an important part in the survival of the 80 or so cetacean species, which includes whales, dolpins and porpoises.
Because these animals use acoustic signals for orientation, reproduction, and even feeding, the introduction of man-made noises over the last hundred years or so appears to be impacting on the cetaceans’ ability to do these things. There’s also widespread concern that acoustic smog is directly contributing to the death of many cetaceans.
It is thought that the affects of acoustic smog on cestaceans include:
- avoidance reactions
- collisions with ships
- mass stranding
- hearing damage
Furthermore, evidence strongly suggests that man-made noise often causes lesions in acoustic organs of cestaceans, which are severe enough to cause death.
Unfortunately, there isn’t enough scientific knowledge to be able to come to strong conclusions on understanding the relationships of frequencies, intensities, and duration of exposures in producing damage. More research needs to be done in this area, and many research bodies are appealing for assistance in this area.
Sons de Mar, for example, say this about their continued efforts in this area:
Academic research generally depends on external funding through public channels and commercial companies. Since the effects of noise pollution on the marine environment have not yet been completely implemented in national programs, funding through these sources is limited.
Therefore, we appeal to private sources to guarantee the continuity of this research. ‘Sons de Mar’ (Sounds of the Sea) was created as a public interface aimed at involving society through donations that will allow to collaborate with all the aspects of the scientific work.
The impact of dangerous sonor on marine life is not a new concern. The Cetacean Society International (CSI) website provides articles on this subject dating as far back as 1995.
Also, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) first wrote a report on this subject in 1999. The report has since been updated and is called Sounding the Depths II: The Rising Toll of Sonar, Shipping and Industrial Ocean Noise on Marine Life. The online report includes an acompanying movie, narrated by Pierce Brosnan.