The 2011 International Quiet Ocean Experiment (IQOE) brought together leading scientists and researchers [download] to dig deeper into the issue of human generated noise pollution with the objective of determining what we know, what needs to be known, how we should evaluate the field of impacts, and how we should find out what we don’t know.
As in any conference of this type there were plenary sessions speaking about the various aspects of the field with break-out groups to work on the specific topics to meet the objective.
Very much like the fluid boundaries of the ocean there were a lot of overlaps between the sessions, but the descriptions are:
1. Observing Systems, including technology and equipment – which looked at the varied ocean observing systems [download] currently in place with a mind to understand capacity, technologies, and collaborations.
2. Scientific knowledge needed for industry and regulators – evaluating what we do and don’t know, and what we should know about how to qualify and quantify noise and its biological impacts.
3. Ocean Soundscapes – what are they, what significance do they have, and how are they qualified and discussed in useful terms?
4. Designing research relating soundscapes to effects on organisms – are there quantifiable soundscape interactions that reveal the organism and population level relationships to noise?
5. Experimental approaches to understanding responses to organisms to specific sources – what types of experiments can be conducted to clarify the immediate-to-long-term impacts of noise on marine life.
I participated in session two, but wanted to peer into session five. Session three and session four overlapped differently than the way four and five did.
In the end we all managed to sort out and focus our groups, but I suspect that the final document may read more like Marcel Proust than an operations manual. Although I do believe that the document will provide meaningful guidance on how we need to understand, frame, and address the problem of human generated noise pollution in the sea.