Silence is golden for whales as lockdown reduces ocean noise

The Guardian

In cities, human lockdowns during the coronavirus pandemic have offered some respite to the natural world, with clear skies and the return of wildlife to waterways. Now evidence of a drop in underwater noise pollution has led experts to predict the crisis may also be good news for whales and other sea mammals.

Researchers examining real-time underwater sound signals from seabed observatories run by Ocean Networks Canada near the port of Vancouver found a significant drop in low-frequency sound associated with ships.

David Barclay, assistant professor of oceanography at Dalhousie University, the lead author of a paper reviewing the phenomena, examined sound power – a way of measuring “loudness” – in the 100 Hz range from two sites, one inland and one farther offshore. He found a significant drop in noise from both.

“Generally, we know underwater noise at this frequency has effects on marine mammals,” Barclay said.

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