Editor’s note: Anthropogenic noise in the ocean – from ships, sonar, construction, oil wells, windfarms, seismic surveys, and other activities – harms marine animals ranging from marine mammals to fish to invertebrates. Ocean noise has been documented to:
- Increase egg and larval mortality, cause developmental delays, slow growth rates, and increase bodily malformations
- Cause temporary or permanent hearing loss
- Increase stress, change metabolic rates and oxygen consumption, decrease immune responses, reduce energy reserves, and decrease reproductive rates
- Cause alarm responses, decrease predator avoidance responses, compromise reproductive and offspring rearing activities, and interfere with feeding
- Inhibit intraspecies communication and more.
As the Skimmer is covering various way that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted marine ecosystems and communities, a likely reduction in ocean noise is one possible bright spot. As we collected news and research articles on this topic, however, almost all reports that we found related to ocean noise and marine mammals off the West Coasts of the U.S. and Canada in the first half of 2020. To help broaden our understanding, we asked scientists from Applied Ocean Sciences, a collective of ocean consultants with expertise in ocean acoustics, to share what they have learned about noise trajectories over a longer timescale and in other areas of the world. Below is our Skimmer-style summary of news and research articles and an interview with Chris Verlinden, a senior scientist and chief technology officer at Applied Ocean Solutions.