Little Ray & Shark Patch Things Up displayed at 50% of viewport width
April 2019 by V. R. Duin


Right-side up, then upside down,
Little Ray loved to act the clown.
The young stingray showed off for friends,
Who cheered his leaps and flips and bends.
(“Little Ray & Shark Patch Things Up”)

Unnatural ocean sounds present a severe noise pollution threat for human enjoyment as well as for marine life survival.

Rolling tides and gentle waves are natural sounds. Unnatural ocean sounds are loud and obvious. Water forced into the ocean from spillways and drainage pipes are noise problems that may cause direct physical damage.

Swim bladders and expelled water or air give fish “voices”. They make barks, bubbles, burps, gnashes, groans, grunts, hisses, hoots, moans, rattles, splashes and thumps.

Dolphins and whales chirp, squeak, click and whistle through blow holes. Fish breathing with the aid of spiracles may make sucking noises. ReefQuest Centre answers: Do sharks make sounds?

Sound is used compete for attention, define boundaries or show submission. Sound helps to navigate, find food and communicate. Sight and smell are not always useful. Touch may be dangerous.

Bone-rattling rackets can be deadly. Territorial animals may not be willing to get out of the way of noisy machines. As boat traffic increases, aggressive and slow animals are killed or maimed.

Sound regulates behavior. Prey flees. Aggressive species are drawn to attack. Stress from noise places animals at risk to predators and disease. It impacts human safety and enjoyment.

Whales make tail thumps. Fish herd into a confusing mass for safety. Whales can swallow the school. Thumps mark territory. Team tail thumping drives prey for easy dining.

Naturally occurring sounds reduce stress. It aids in spawning, sheltering, mating, growth, development, feeding and other necessary marine life activities. Stress can damage blood vessels and the nervous system.

Thundering commotion causes chronic stress. Severe, common, load noises include music, engines, depth sounding devices, sonar blasts, oil drilling booms, construction explosives and air guns for surveys.

Noise has immune system effects. Julia Purser, UK biologist, has authored or co-authored articles about injury, death and other effects of noise on marine life survival.

Damage may worsen after the ruckus stops. Loud noise interferes with rest and impairs hearing. It results in metabolic disruptions, developmental delay and physical deformities.

Advanced sensing technologies and robotics open new areas for development. Canadian biologist Lindy Wilgart wrote a report entitled The Impact of Ocean Noise Pollution on Fish and Invertebrates. It compiled reviews of 115 scientific studies.

Scientific and government laboratories are involved. NOAA mapped a strategy to reduce noise pollution over a 10-year period. Everyone interacting with the ocean should reduce recreational and industrial impacts.

Government wants help. The NOAA Ocean Noise Strategy Road Map was launched with an opportunity for comment and feedback. Its collaborative guideline benefits visitors and ocean life.

NOAA issued Phase 2 of its plan for ocean sound management, planning, regulation and assessment. Public education programs, workshops and tasks forces come with this Outreach.

Efforts to limit decibels extend to land and freshwater. The International Maritime Organization is quieting commercial vessels. Sanctuaries are being set aside for the study marine life.

Countries are involved. Canada has an Ocean Protection Plan. The UN has an “Open-Ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and Law of the Sea”. Its 19th meeting, Anthropogenic Ocean Noise, was international.

Water amplifies sound, causing fish to flee. Noise reverberates from water to land and from land to water. It rivals the misery of robocalling and spoofing by telemarketers, political parties and hucksters.

“Yes” to noise pollution is a bad answer. To keep your voice from being used for unwanted purchases, blow bubbles with a straw or spew animal cries or machine cacophony. Cons may not risk another round.