Ocean Noise: What is the impact of Oceanic Noise Pollution on the Marine Ecosystem?
Why in News?
Scientists have been talking about the underwater anthropogenic noise and its propagation from quite some time now. Contrary to the early research, when the noise was expected to harm only larger marine animals, the scientists have found it to harm even the smallest sects and species.
What is Ocean Noise?
As per the standard definition, "Ocean noise refers to sounds made by human activities that can interfere with or obscure the ability of marine animals to hear natural sounds in the ocean."
Various marine animals rely on their ability to decipher sounds. It is considered as an efficient means of communication underwater and helps the marine animals stay alive by avoiding predators too.
Over the last century, human activities such as oil exploration, shipping, energy exploration etc create heavy loads of noise pollution that travels far away affecting the natural radars of the marine ecosystem.
Hazards of the Oceanic Noise Pollution:
- Higher noise levels can reduce the ability of animals to communicate with potential mates, other group members, their offspring, or feeding partners.
- Noise can also reduce an ocean animal's ability to hear environmental cues that are vital for survival, including those key to avoiding predators, finding food, and navigating to preferred habitats.
Whales have been noticed to take a detour from their natural routes due to noise pollution created by oil rigs.
Study on Oceanic Noise:
A new study signified that underwater noise affects much more than large animals and its effects reach even the zoo-planktons and jelly fishes. C Duarte conducted this study to force the policy makers to bring about some change in the global policies. The study named intensity of the impacts of anthropogenic ocean noise was recently published in Science Journal in this regard.
It is a collaboration among 25 authors from across the globe and is the largest synthesis of evidence in support of oceanic noise pollution.
Impacts of Oceanic Noise Pollution:
- Anthropogenic Noise drowns the natural soundscapes and puts the marine ecosystem in stress.
- Baby clown fishes wander into the sea directionless due to heavy noise and are unable to find their way home.
- In case the noise settles in more permanently, the animals leave the place for good.
- Such forced evacuations reduce the population sizes and the animals give up their territories which brings competition for biological resources at other places.
- Animals also face hearing loss due to noise pollution
- Difficulty for benthic creatures and slow moving creatures like sea cucumbers is there, while whales can skirt busy shipping lanes like many bigger fishes.
Oceanic Noise Pollution: Solution
- Considering the greenhouse gases or chemicals, sound is a relatively controllable pollutant
- Noise can be controlled as its sources are clear and the way to reduce it is available.
- For pollution due to shipping, slowing down or moving ships in lane or change of propellers is the solution.Blades from propellers cause screeching noise so quieter designs must be deployed.
- Deep-sea mining can be aided with new technology to minimize the sound effect.
- It was also noticed that due to COVID-19, marine activities slowed down which made the oceans silent again. This is why the marine mammals returned to their original homes.
The law of sea of the United Nations does not mention the noise pollution which if taken care of would help sea animals be free of noise. The marine animals or the ecosystem is essential to maintain the balance of the Earth, its atmosphere and the life in any form. It is essential that man reduces the damages and the control he exercises on the oceans and begin the exercise to conserve them.