Recent discoveries show that endangered whale species are affected by ship sounds.
It is a well-known fact that whales communicate through sounds. However, people are not aware of the fact that Baleen and toothed whales are hurt because of noisy ships. Ships’ sounds disturb the frequency whales use to communicate with each other.
This means that they are left unable to hunt and they can even lose their way. Not long ago, scientists revealed the fact that low frequency sounds are harmful to blue whales and humpbacks. The present study shows that ships’ rumble also disturbs smaller whales, such as orcas or dolphins.
Researchers conducted their study by listening to different frequencies. They analyzed the sound of 1,600 ships that sailed through their testing area a total of 3,000 times.
It was found that the ships produce a low rumble that affects the whales. Also, they tried to switch the noise at medium or very high frequencies in order to see the effects on orcas.
The conclusion was that they were harmed by the sounds, regardless of the frequencies. In fact, Washington state has the only population of orcas that are labeled as endangered species. However, the study’s findings concern also toothed whales and dolphins that have their habitat around coastal areas.
In this areas, shallow water make ship noises even louder. The researchers discovered that most of the noise comes from container ships. Apparently, the only ones that are quieter are military vessels. Scientists believe that noise pollution could be easily reduced.
Due to the fact that military vessels’ sounds are not as disturbing, they consider that commercial fleets should be transferred the same type of technology.
In the meantime, the unanimous answer is a very simple one: slowing down. It is estimated that slowing down by even one knot—one mile per hour—could minimize a ship’s sound by one decibel. Moreover, lowering speed by six knots may decrease noise potency by half.
Even if endangered whales are affected by ship sounds, this is not the only thing that harms them. Oceans are full of toxic algae, there isn’t enough prey and whaling is still a serious problem. We should seriously reconsider our way of thinking and living in order to give another chance to these suffering animals. Mankind can make a difference.
Photo Credits: Wikimedia