Ocean Hero Richard Charter sent me a fabulous article today from the New York Times about the soundscapes of the spring sea below the arctic ice. Written by Kate Stafford of from University of Washington Applied Physics Lab, the article discusses some of the stunning and fantastic sounds made by various Arctic marine mammals.
Kate Stafford’s article also mentions that with the melt-back of the icecaps and “ice free” summers, we can expect an increase in noise from shipping and fossil fuel operations which may “affect bowhead whales in particular” by impacting their vocal behavior or “restricting the ranges over which they communicate.”
This point is reflected in a Seattle Times article which is a “weekend read” overview of the various troubling aspects of the growing problem of ocean noise pollution. This article is remarkable inasmuch as it highlights the impacts of noise on fisheries (as opposed to the usual marine-mammal weighting of the discussion).
Using the example of Rachel Carson’s clarion call “Silent Spring” which curbed pesticide use, the article expresses hopes that more noise research will provide “a better alternative to waiting to see what happens to fish in the dim future of a ‘noisy spring.’ ”
And while much on the noise about ocean noise concerns our military-driven fossil-fueled economy, a May 12 article from the New Scientist reviews fish acousticologist Art Popper’s concern that offshore wind farms may also occlude fish’s bio-acoustic habitat.
All three of these articles hinge on our concern for impacts of noise on marine life. And while the problem is troubling (and why I have focused my efforts on the issue) I find the proliferation of articles about ocean noise pollution encouraging.
Back in 1992 when I began exploring and advocating about the issue, I recall telling someone about my work on “Ocean Noise Pollution.” They rolled their eyes, clearly exasperated with the extents of human self-centeredness. “You mean people are complaining about the noise of the ocean?”
It took a few moments for me to clarify the nature of the problem. Now within one week there are at least three casual articles about it in the national news.
If you didn’t get enough of the bizarre arctic animal sounds in Kate Stafford’s article, there are more on the OCR website.