Monster Seminar JAM - Acoustic Smog: Undersea Noise Effects on Whales and Other Marine Life
Dr. Lindy Weilgart, Dalhousie University
The issue of ocean noise pollution is steadily increasing in crescendo with a greater awareness of the effects on whales of military sonars, seismic surveys for oil and gas, shipping, etc. There is no doubt now that noise can kill cetaceans in addition to causing other, more subtle, impacts. Recent strandings have indicated that more species are impacted by noise than previously thought, that whales can be killed at sea by military sonars without stranding, that noise sources besides sonars may cause strandings, and that whales may strand due to noise without evidence of acoustic trauma. Moreover, there are concerns that strandings, as well as other noise impacts, may represent population-level effects. Studies on fish, squid, and crabs also indicate serious reactions to undersea noise. Expanded naval sonar testing ranges are being proposed, the search for oil and gas is expanding into deeper waters, and shipping is increasing, so the problem is likely to worsen. The most effective mitigation is to keep noise away from biologically significant areas and reduce noise levels at the source through technological innovations. Noise levels should be monitored in critical habitat and correlated with ecosystem and population health. Stranding investigations and reports need to be open, transparent, timely, and accessible to the public. Additionally, research on the effects of noise on marine mammals should not be directly sponsored by noise producers, so as to avoid actual and perceived conflicts of interest.
Date and Time:
February 23, 2006,
11:00 am - 12:30 pm