Noisy Oceans Affect Whales
Whales off the California coast can have communication interference from shipping lanes. Ships that travel in the same area as whales can create interference from low frequency sounds. Studies are being conducted to research how much of an effect ships actually cause with underwater whale communication. To many of us the ocean appears quiet and peaceful but this sheds a new light that we may not often consider. Maybe shipping lanes are like interstates to whales living in the same area!
“A new study assessing the underwater soundscape off Southern California found that blue, fin and humpback whales experience a range of acoustic environments, including noise from shipping traffic as well as quieter areas within a national marine sanctuary. The study appeared in a special issue of Endangered Species Research focusing on ocean noise.”
“Blue whales feed in Southern California waters from about June to October, while humpback whales feed in the area from March to November and fin whales have been found there year-round. Underwater shipping noise occurs at low frequencies and these three species of large whales are low frequency hearing and communication specialists. Therefore, the potential for low frequency noise to mask communication has been identified as a primary concern. The study used U.S. Coast Guard data on ship traffic from 2009 to estimate sound levels throughout Southern California waters, including areas south and west of Point Conception and in the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary.”
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