Offshore wind farms on the northeast coast of Scotland are projected to increase in the next few years. This is definitely good news, but we don’t yet know the impact that the associated increase in shipping will have on local marine life.
A new system developed by scientists at the University of Bath and University of Aberdeen will monitor the impact of underwater noise on the population of bottlenose dolphins in Scotland’s Moray Firth.
By using underwater recording equipment and technology to track shipping movements, scientist will be able to track and monitor current underwater noise levels in order to assess future noise increases. They will also be able to record any changes in dolphin behavior associated with changes in underwater noise levels.
Scientists know that underwater noise levels have been steadily increasing over the last five decades, primarily due to an increase in shipping. However, there is a lack of reliable baseline data that they can use to assess the impact that this increase has had on marine life.
“Globally, noise from shipping is widespread and increasing as trade becomes ever more globalized,” explains lead author Nathan Merchant in a news release. “Over the last decades, the number of large vessels and their size and power has risen dramatically…In places where ships cross habitats or migration routes for marine animals, the cumulative effect of many noisy ships can interfere with important activities such as foraging, which may affect the long-term health of individuals…”
The important question is: will these effects lead to changes in population levels? Long-term studies like this one will help researchers answer that question.
To learn more:
- Read the full news release from University of Bath: The sound of the ocean may not be as relaxing as you think
- And this one from Syracuse University: Biologist Develops Method for Monitoring Shipping Noise in Dolphin Habitat
- Check out the video to see the footage of the ships and hear just how loud they are.
- Find the full study online: Monitoring ship noise to assess the impact of coastal developments on marine mammals
- Read how Noisy Oceans Can be Life-Threateningly Distracting for crabs.
- Find out why Underwater Noise Makes Whale Communication Difficult
Copyright © 2013 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.