Ocean noise is badly affecting the marine ecosystem. How can you help?

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

The ocean noise, few know, affects the marine ecosystem more than one might imagine. If not monitored more efficiently and if people are not aware of the harm that noise pollution causes to marine animals, the negative impact will be even worse. See what you can do to solve this serious problem. Read more.

The ocean noise is as harmful to the marine world as plastics, metals, and toxic materials!

The gradual increase in noise pollution is mainly linked to human activities that create noise beyond what marine animals can tolerate.

This issue, despite not being well known by the majority is serious and significantly affects the sustainability of the marine biome.

Ocean noise not only affects the hearing of marine animals but also causes psychological and reproductive issues, lowers the immune system, and leads to behavioral disorders. To get things even worse, fish and crustaceans reduce their echolocation ability, affecting their migration routes, and, ultimately, the worst consequence: sometimes they die because they get stranded on beaches.

Other consequences of this sad "sea sound mess‚ÄĚ

Some marine species use specific "signals" during breeding or spawning. For example, fish larvae follow the sound to find a place to settle down. Some whales and dolphins use echolocation to perceive their surroundings and for other needs.

Cetaceans emit ultrasonic pulses of different frequencies through their larynx and capture the echo through their jaws. They use echolocation to navigate, mate, find food, and ultimately depend on sound to communicate with their companions and locate their prey.

Underwater, sound travels longer distances

Any sound, when in the depths of the sea, reverberates much longer than on the surface. There is evidence of mass strandings of whales because they were injured in their auditory structures.

A study called, "Marine Seismic Surveys and Ocean Noise - Time for Coordinated and Prudent Planning, demonstrated how harmful ocean noise is to the marine biome. One of the worst sources of noise is from seismic surveys, which use seismic waves to prospect for oil beneath the seabed. To give you an idea of the damage, these surveys reach an average of 230 decibels (dB), while a loud rock concert ranges from 105 dB to 120 dB. 

It is urgent, therefore, to develop and implement effective strategies to drastically reduce excessive ocean noise caused by various sources. Strict laws and regulations are the only legal mechanisms that can tackle the problem before it gets out of control

The main sources of ocean noise pollution caused by human activities are:

    • Commercial and tourist shipping

    • Submarine navigation

    • Sonar systems

    • Seismic surveys

    • Offshore drilling (using explosives)

    • Military exercises

    • Underwater constructions

    After all, what is the classic definition of noise?

    Noise can be defined as any loud sound that is harmful to the ears of any living being. Depending on the duration of exposure, the effects of noise range from irritation to various psychological and even physical consequences.

    There are 4 types of noise:

      1. Continuous: constant and stable over a certain period.

      2. Variable: comes from different sources and changes in pitch frequently.

      3. Intermittent: silent and noisy during the same period.

      4. Impulsive: sharp and unbearable because it is loud and short-lasting, lasting less than a second.

       Huge impact on fishing

      Constant and intense ocean noise also affects fishing, as some fish species stop using their usual routes and sometimes get lost in new routes, sometimes leading  to death. This issue also affects on the local economy and the livelihoods of fishing communities.

      What can be done to reduce ocean noise?

      In addition to stricter laws at the local, state, national, and international levels, general awareness of the problem is crucial, similar to the year-round campaigns against marine litter that should be implemented.

      7 ways to collaborate to reduce ocean noise:

      1. Choose quieter boats: consider electric or hybrid engines that produce less noise and emissions.

      2. Buy local products: reduce reliance on items shipped on foreign cargo ships, thereby helping to reduce the carbon footprint.

      3. Promote responsible fishing practices: encourage sustainable fishing practices that also help minimize the use of noisy equipment and motors.

      4. Support marine protected areas: advocate for the creation and expansion of marine protected areas that can offer safe havens for marine life where natural sounds prevail.

      5. Support ocean noise activism organizations: participate in positive activism that concerns itself with ocean noise caused by human activities.

      6. Strengthen public policies with effective suggestions: collaborate by suggesting effective policies in combating ocean noise. Use constructive creativity!

      7. Help promote alliances with public and private sectors: assist in recruiting public and private entities that can join forces in various ways, such as providing qualified personnel or financial collaboration. 

      Conclusion

      As you have seen, the negative impacts of ocean noise on marine life are significant and have terrible consequences. Ocean noise can drive marine species out of their habitats, impair their communication, and hence, their ability to feed, reproduce, and avoid predators.
      Therefore, noise pollution is a serious problem, and few people realize its severity. Joint actions must be taken as soon as possible to prevent further harm to the marine biome and the environment as a whole. Do your part. Nature shall greet you back.