Oceans of noise
The undersea noise issue has steadily increased in crescendo with a greater awareness of the potential effects on marine mammals of military sonars, seismic surveys, shipping and boat traffic, oceanographic experiments, as well as other noise sources. What has made the noise problem so intractable, though, is the inherent difficulty in studying marine mammals, particularly cetaceans, and the effects of sound on them. Free-ranging whales and dolphins, which are visible above water for only short periods of time, are notoriously challenging research subjects.
Over the course of the last couple of decades, scientists and conservationists have become increasingly aware of threats to biodiversity that are diffuse and hard to assess but are, nonetheless, of great concern. Three examples are climate change, chemical pollution and marine noise pollution. Of the three, chemical pollution has received the greatest attention and response mechanisms are already enshrined in a host of national and international law. However, by contrast, noise pollution in the marine environment is still an emerging, but undoubtedly serious, concern. Its implications are less well understood than other global threats but like chemical pollution it is usually largely indetectable
to everyone but the specialist. It is also difficult to comprehend, particularly for those that live above the sea surface and who do not readily appreciate the profound importance of sound to marine animals, particularly the whales, dolphins and porpoises, in the oceans.
Article and image from WDCS