Tuesday 07 August 2018 | 6

Noise and fury in the oceans

Mis à jour le 07 August 2018

Over the last sixty years, the ocean has been subject to increasing levels of noise, and in parallel, cetacean beachings. One Voice is asking for a higher level of sea protection before it is too late.

Hr blog

Imagine a deep screeching sound, like iron claws running across a giant blackboard. The noise doesn't stop, and repeats itself on increasingly unbearable frequencies pounding the eardrums. Far away on the horizon a US Navy vessel creeps along the coast. A nearby group of orcas hug together nearly touching the beach, trying to escape the noise. They keep their heads above water and slide as close as they can to the bank, risking stranding. This was filmed at Puget Sound in 2003. Fortunately, the J Pod orcas escaped unharmed.

Military fleets from many countries have since upped their military operations in the open sea and on the coast. Bombs have been dropped in scare-tactic strategies, missiles have been launched, and dark stealth submarines survey the depths with their damaging signals. In order to track them, the American Navy's super-sonar Low-Frequency Active (LFA) sweeps the ocean with a sonic roar the equivalent of three Boeing 747's taking off. Whales don't have anti-noise protection to shield them from 235 decibels, and in the aftermath of these operations, numerous cetaceans die on the beaches with broken eardrums and bleeding eyes.

Elsewhere, in calmer waters, it's the oil seekers who initiate research operations, surveying the ocean bottom with air gun blasts to uncover hydrocarbon. Once discovered the platforms sound the gongs morning, noon and night, resonating in the Norwegian Sea and changing the course of sperm whales.

Jacques Cousteau's "Silent World" is actually quite the opposite. The sea has always been a concert of rumbling, tapping, calls and songs exchanged by fish. The coral reefs are as noisy as the jungle and sometimes this chit-chat can only be drowned out by the triumphant whistling of an orca, the infrasound of a blue whale, or the far away thunder of an underwater volcano.

But there has never been as much sonic assault as destructive to marine life as that inflicted since the arrival of humans: Endless marine traffic, luxury marinas, cruises, water sports, intrusive whale watching, offshore wind farms sinking their piles using hydraulic hammers etcetera. Considering we know that small Great Barrier Reef fish are eaten twice as fast by the larger fish when motorboats are present, what can we say about the cetacean suffering; whose world is first and foremost made of sounds, as ours is of images? If the sonar noise becomes too powerful, they can no longer feed themselves, reproduce or socialise. Small boat traffic alone reduces the range of sounds emitted by the big dolphins by 26%, and by 58% for the pilot whales. Imagine living in a nightclub, constantly shouting to be heard!

One Voice is asking that the European Commission, under its Marine strategy framework directive (2008/56/CE), devote more research into sound pollution in the different marine regions within its jurisdiction, and that the member states deploy all the necessary means to limit the principal noise factors as quickly as possible.

Yvon Godefroid
Hr blog

In the subject

The National Nature Reserve of the Ramières should not be reopened to the hunt! Stop palm oil being used in fuels!

Comments 6

I accept that publication of my comments is subject to the code of conduct.

Alex | Wednesday 08 August 2018

Sauvon les oceans

trochu | Tuesday 07 August 2018

Je suis entièrement avec vous ONE VOICE et partage depuis toujours votre avis, je trouve que l'envahissement humain, leur désir de tout s'approprier et à n'importe quel prix est désastreux pour les animaux mais surtout honteux et inacceptable et manque de respect total et considération pour toutes vies animales. Je suis contre les croisières, contres les sports aquatiques, contre tout ce qui vient plomber les mers et océans et considère que nos mers ne sont plus ce qu'elles étaient car la surpopulation humaine sur les plages et dans tous lieux de tourisme est de toute façon plus que destructrice pour l'environnement total et je trouverais normal que des lois soient votées afin de réduire un tel débordement d'humains en fixant des limites, car je pense avant tout à tous ces merveilleux animaux qui peuplent les fonds marins et qui sont chez eux et n'auraient pas à être constamment perturbés, déboussolés et stressés par l'accaparation de leurs habitats par des humains. Je suis franchement très choquée de ce besoin par la plupart des humains à vouloir tout conquérir, à ne viser que la mondialisation, le progrès mais à quel prix ! sans se soucier des autres vies qui habitent sur cette terre, sans prendre conscience à un seul moment que l'humain n'a pas tous les droits mais de nombreux devoirs par contre envers ces autres être vivants que sont les animaux, et il est attristant d'observer autant d'indifférence et d'insensibilisation alors que nous sommes tous voués à disparaître et ne valons pas plus que les ETRES VIVANTS ANIMAUX. Tous ces cétacés si sensibles et si intelligents doivent pouvoir continuer de vivre en paix, dans le calme de leurs environnements naturels et en toute liberté sans qu'ils soient dérangés constamment par des activités humaines quelles quelles soient et pour cela je vous remercie de vous battre afin que les humains ne puissent plus régner en "seuls maîtres absolus" des mers et des océans.