Scientific American —
Shipping noise and other sounds from human activity in oceans harm numerous marine species, according to a broad new assessment of existing research. The findings, published this month in Science, also include viable solutions—some already in use—that could buy time to address tougher problems such as ocean acidification and potentially save the lives of imperiled species such as southern resident killer whales, Maui dolphins and Atlantic cod.
The researchers say their examination of more than 500 studies of marine noise pollution provides a solid foundation of evidence to support new policies and changing industry practices to restore the health of the global ocean soundscape for marine life and people who depend on it.
Alternative practices include dampening noises associated with offshore wind farms and taking a lower-pressure approach to seismic surveys for fossil fuel deposits. Ship designs that reduce propeller noise could also help immensely, but they are costly and lack regulatory support for widespread adoption. In the meantime slower shipping speeds and rerouting vessels away from sensitive areas of the marine ecosystem could lessen the impact of the noise, the researchers say.