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Current Affairs

Rising noise in oceans

Date: 06 February 2021 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

Human activities have made the ocean an unbearably noisy place for marine life, according to a new research.

 

Background

Anthropogenic noise often drowns out the natural soundscapes, putting marine life under immense stress.

 

Details

  • In the ocean, visual cues disappear and chemical cues dissipate. But sound can travel thousands of miles and link animals across oceanic basins and in darkness.

  • As a result, many marine species are impeccably adapted to detect and communicate with sound. Dolphins call one another by unique names. Toadfish hum. Bearded seals trill. Whales sing.

  • The new study maps out how underwater noise affects countless groups of marine life, including zooplankton and jellyfish.

  • The authors screened more than 10,000 papers to ensure they captured every tendril of marine acoustics research from the past few decades.

  • Marine life can adapt to noise pollution by swimming, crawling or oozing away from it, which means some animals are more successful than others.

  • Whales can learn to skirt busy shipping lanes and fish can dodge the thrum of an approaching fishing vessel, but benthic creatures like slow-moving sea cucumbers have little recourse.

  • These forced evacuations reduce population sizes as more animals give up territory and compete for the same pools of resources. 

  • Even temporary sounds can cause chronic hearing damage in the sea creatures unlucky enough to be caught in the acoustic wake.

 

Solutions to Anthropogenic noise

  • Many solutions to anthropogenic noise pollution already exist, such as slowing down, moving the shipping lane, avoiding sensitive areas, changing propellers etc.

  • The researchers also flagged deep-sea mining as an emergent industry that could become a major source of underwater noise, and suggested that new technologies could be designed to minimize sound before commercial mining starts.