Warming oceans are getting louder (audio available)

AGU –

One of the ocean’s loudest creatures is smaller than you’d expect—and will get even louder and more troublesome to humans and sea life as the ocean warms, according to new research presented here at the Ocean Sciences Meeting 2020.

Snapping shrimp create a pervasive background crackling noise in the marine environment. Scientists suspect the sound helps the shrimp communicate, defend territories and hunt for food. When enough shrimp snap at once, the noise can dominate the soundscape of coastal oceans, sometimes confusing sonar instruments.

Researchers will present new results Friday at the Ocean Sciences Meeting 2020 suggesting that with increased ocean temperatures, snapping shrimp will snap more often and louder than before. This could amplify the background noise, or soundscape, of the global ocean, with implications for marine life and humans.

“It’s a really cool little animal,” said Aran Mooney, a marine biologist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution who will present the work. “They’re a crustacean, kind of like a little shrimp or lobster. They make a sound by like closing a claw so fast it makes this bubble and when that bubble implodes, it makes that snapping sound.”

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