Madrid / Noise pollution caused by maritime traffic, fishing and other industrial activities alters the physiology, reproduction and even survival of animals, according to a study published by Science.
The research, in which the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) has participated, suggests that this noise is considered, on a global scale, as a stress factor, that new monitoring technologies are used and management policies are developed to mitigate its effects on ecosystems.
Marine animals are sensitive to sound, which they use as a prominent sensory signal that guides all aspects of their behavior and ecology, and scientists have concluded, after reviewing the scientific literature, that noise caused by human activities affects invertebrates whales.
“Because sound travels far and fast under water, the soundscape takes on special relevance”, according to Víctor Eguíluz, from the Institute of Interdisciplinary Physics and Complex Systems (IFISC-CSIC-UIB) and the University of the Balearic Islands.
Maritime traffic, resource exploration and infrastructure development have increased anthropophony (noises generated by human activity), while biophony (sounds of biological origin) have decreased due to hunting, fishing and hunting. degradation of ecosystems, say the researchers.
Deterioration of habitats
The climate crisis and other human pressures have caused the deterioration of habitats such as coral reefs, seagrass beds and beds of seaweed, and have silenced characteristic sounds that guide fish larvae and other animals to find their habitats .
The study, led by the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (Saudi Arabia), has reviewed more than 10,000 scientific articles that show the impact of human-generated noise on marine life around the world.
This unprecedented effort “has demonstrated overwhelming evidence of the prevalence of human-made noise impacts on marine animals, to the point where the urgency for action cannot be ignored,” according to Michelle Havlik, researcher. of the aforementioned university.
Actions against noise pollution
The study points out that the problem of noise pollution “can be reversed quickly” and points out as evidence what happened in the oceans during confinement by the covid-19 pandemic, when the predominant noises were again those generated by animals marine.
The study proposes to promote management actions such as promoting the use of new technologies: reducing the noise of engines or propellers, improving the materials of the hull of boats, the use of electric motors.
It also suggests the promotion of regulatory measures to reduce noise from commercial ships under water, something that since 2014 has been promoted by the International Maritime Organization through a series of voluntary guidelines.
The team leader, Carlos Duarte, also from the Rey Abdalá University of Science and Technology, highlights the extent to which the ocean surface, where most of the human noise is generated, is acoustically connected to the deep sea.
The scientist relates that, years ago, while listening to a recording of hydrophones on the west coast of the United States, he was surprised to hear clearly the sound of rain, falling on the surface, as the dominant sound in the deep ocean environment. (February 5, 2021, EFE / PracticaEspañol)
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