Sounding an alarm over deep sea noise
Marine experts say the rising clamour is particularly dangerous to whales, which depend on their acute hearing to locate food and one another. To fight the din, the US Government is completing the first phase of what could become one of the world’s largest efforts to curb the noise pollution and return the sprawling ecosystem to a quieter state.
It is no small ambition: The sea covers more than 70 per cent of the planet’s surface. The federal effort seeks to document human-made noises in the ocean and transform the results into the world’s first large sound maps. The visualisations use bright colours to symbolise the sounds radiating out through the oceanic depths, frequently over distances of hundreds of miles.
The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration began the effort in 2010 at the behest of Jane Lubchenco, a prominent marine biologist. Hatch and her colleagues assembled a team of sound experts, including HLS Research, a consulting firm in La Jolla, California. This summer, they unveiled their results on the web, as did a separate team of specialists that sought to map the whereabouts of populations of whales, dolphins and porpoises.
Michael Jasny, a senior policy analyst with the Natural
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