Noise pollution is a problem for marine life. It’s very disruptive for them and can lead to health problems.
Why is this?
Noise travels longer distances within the ocean than it does on land. Plus, many species rely on sound to navigate their way through the water and communicate with each other.1 Human activity like military sonar, ship engines, seismic surveys, and drilling for oil all make enough noise to affect marine species. It doesn’t matter if it’s one big sound or a continuous stream of sounds. They all have an impact on marine life.2
Health issues and even death can occur due to these noises, such as panic responses, increased stress hormones, and hemorrhages of the brain or heart. Noise pollution also can cause marine life to get stranded. Mass strandings were not very common from 1900 to 1950 – there were only about 7 – that skyrocketed in 2004, where there have been more than 120 since then.2
Thankfully, there are solutions.
Making adjustments to behavior and equipment can help reduce noise pollution. For example, slowing down how fast ships go or standardizing propellers on boats that make less noise or utilizing acoustic bubble curtains to reduce noise.1
Read more: Why Can Marine Mammals Hold Their Breath So Long?