Oceas Sound & Noise

Ocean sounds is a truly fascinating and yet, not very well understood scientific topic.

Today we know more about ocean sounds than ever before and we are still starting to discover the tip of the iceberg.

Today we know that sound is the primary way of communication underwater for many aquatic organisms. They use it to find prey, to locate mates and offspring, avoid predators, orientate themselves in the blue and gather important information about their surroundings.

From tiny organisms like fish communities to the huge whales that can communicate over immense distances, sound is absolutely essential for the daily life at sea.

We humans usually relate ocean sounds and whale songs with a peaceful environment to distract ourselves from our busy lives. The truth is that the ocean is no longer a quiet place and that noise pollution is increasing to certain levels that can imply an imminent threat to sea life and marine ecosystems. Noise pollution enters the oceans in different forms, with boat traffic being the main cause followed by dredging and extraction of deep-sea bottom marine resources.

Whales and other marine mammals are extremely social and their biological success relies on their ability to sense the acoustic environment.

Our study in a local scale, consists of monitoring noise levels from whale watching boats in order to find noise levels thresholds that can be used as a tool to help manage responsible whale watching in Skjálfandi Bay. Noise levels can vary depending on boat type and design. This are important variables to consider for responsible boat building, maintenance and to apply the best practices on boat maneuvering to ensure a quiet and respectful approach to whales and dolphins from boat operators.

On this line Belén G. Ovide has been studying noise levels from whale watching boats and potential effects on humpback whales in the bay. (read article) or (download MSc Thesis).

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