Submarine noise deafens marine mammals

Noise fills the ocean. The coming and going of ships, the exploration for hydrocarbons, or the installation of offshore wind turbines make a shrill screech on the seabed. The noise produced by human activity affects the hearing of many people. fish and marine mammalsit forces them to go elsewhere or doom them to be lost in the vast sea.. The consequences of noise are enormous, leading a group of scientists to warn of its effects and propose solutions.

With the right tools, scientists need to get an idea of ​​how sound is transmitted underwater. You can hear from Europe how ships enter and leave New York harborthousands of kilometers away. The seabed has become a noisy and unbearable place for the animals that live on it.

Reduce speed by 11%, a viable solution

One of these alternatives to reduce the never-ending sound that human beings bring to the depths of the sea is water. Reduces the speed of ships by 11%. “Ships are now the main source of noise, with this little move we can greatly reduce the noise” comments José Antonio Díaz, member of the Saturn consortium and technician of the Canary Islands Ocean Platform (Plocan). Located on the island of Gran Canaria, La Plocan is one of the 20 centers working on the European project. Saturn: Developing Solutions to Underwater Noisespent three years researching solutions to reduce underwater noise.

Large ships cause a tremendous amount of underwater noise verified

Organized by University College Cork and led by the Science Foundation’s Irish Maritime, Climate and Energy Research Center (MaREI), the project includes 20 project partners from 10 countries and a large consortium of EU participants. and an interdisciplinary approach with acousticians, marine biologists and marine engineers.

Most boats cruise at speeds between 20 and 24 knots, so reducing their speed by 11% means they must travel between 18 and 21 knots. “Contrary to the default, ships make noise from their propellers, not their engines,” emphasizes Díaz.

“Contrary to what might be expected, ships make noise from their propellers, not their engines.”

Specifically, when the propellers spin, they produce bubbles that burst, making that incessant noise that disrupts marine life. And while this is a viable solution in the short term, the Saturn project researchers believe that much of the noise could be avoided if “the shape of the propeller was changed to produce fewer bubbles,” as the researcher insists.

Reducing speed also reduces fuel consumption

Reducing the speed of boats can have other benefits as well. This was already revealed in 2019 by consulting firm Reynolds Environmental Sustainability Consultants (RESC), which has established a correlation between the speed of ships and caring for the environment in general.

In the RESC report, reducing the speed of ships by 20% can reduce fuel consumption by more than 24%. This, in addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, It will reduce noise pollution by 67% and cetacean deaths from ship collisions by 78%.according to that report.

Many marine animals disappear due to noise Pixabay

This series of solutions was made after taking a detailed X-ray of the silence of the ocean. “We compare virgin regions without any noise pollution and those with the greatest economic activity and shipping,” Díaz emphasizes. between two regions 10,000 times greater noise difference. “This is barbaric”says the researcher.

“Permanent or temporary deafness”

By comparison, it would be like going from being in a field where only the sounds of nature can be heard, to parking next to a jet about to take off. The most affected area in Spain is the Strait of Gibraltar, through which about 300 ships pass every day.. That is, every five minutes.

There are places on the sea that are as noisy as being next to a plane about to take off.

“Underwater noise affects all species,” emphasizes Díaz. And historically, the focus has been on large mammals such as cetaceans and dolphins. This is not surprising because their communication is done with sounds. There are two possible effects for them. A physique they stay with permanent or temporary deafness, but also “noise overlaps with your communications”.

This prevents them from listening to each other, so they drift away or drift away from the rest of their group.. But they are not the only ones affected. The rest of the fish also tend to escape from very noisy places, which affects both ecosystems (losing one of their bonds) and human activities such as fishing.

“Noise is a little-known problem and now is the time to propose solutions,” emphasizes Díaz. Research results are public and available to all segments of society. We need to move forward in this regard and determine the measures to be taken more clearly.”

For more information:


To contact From the environment department: [email protected]

Source: Informacion


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