Recently, studies have been concerned with noise pollution in the oceans–generated primarily by humans, from ship traffic to sonar testing. In fact, background noise in the ocean is about ten times louder than it was only 50 years ago.
However, new research shows that before the era of industrial whaling about 200 years ago, whale songs and communication made the ocean even louder than it is today.
Researchers from Ocean Conservation Research in Lagunitas, California, used current whale vocalization data combined with historic population data to determine the noise level.
“In one example, 350,000 fin whales in the North Atlantic may have contributed 126 decibels — about as loud as a rock concert — to the ocean ambient sound level in the early 19th century,” said researcher Michael Stocker.
While the ocean was a loud place, Stocker explains that “we can assume that animals have adapted to biological noise over the eons, which may not be the case with anthropogenic noise. Anthropogenic noise is often broader band and differently textured than natural noise, so the impacts are likely different as well. Investigating these differences and their impact on marine life is the topic of intense research.”
To learn more, check out these links:
- Sonar blamed for recent whale beachings
- Groups Seek To Stop Navy From Blasting Marine Mammals With Sonar
- Underwater nose makes whale communication difficult
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