If marine noise pollution is bad, deep-sea mining could add to the cacophony

If marine noise pollution is bad, deep-sea mining could add to the cacophony

It’s not easy to try to describe how a dolphin experiences sound in the ocean, says Lindy Weilgart, a noise pollution expert at Dalhousie University in Canada. “We have terrestrial ears and we’re in air, right?” Weilgart told Mongabay in a video call. “So you think, ‘Oh, so the ear’s a bit different,’ but it’s also how they receive sounds. We receive it directly into our inner ear, whereas for dolphins, it’s conducted through their lower jaw. And because [their bodies] are mostly water, the sound couples very efficiently into their bodies.” While reluctant to make a comparison, Weilgart said that dolphins and whales might experience underwater sound similarly to how we hear low pitches on a cranked-up stereo. “You would feel it in your lungs,” she said. “I suspect that’s more the case with whales and dolphins — it actually is a whole-body feeling as they’re immersed in the sound.” Whale and dolphin species have been known to stop feeding and vocalizing around certain types of human-made noise, such as sonar equipment, or to become disoriented and strand on shore, which is what happened to a pod of melon-headed whales (Peponocephala electra) in 2008 in Madagascar. Noise has also been shown to cause air damage to fish called pink snappers (Chrysophrys auratus) and reduce the larval quality of Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua). Airguns have caused widespread death in krill and other kinds of zooplankton, and studies have even shown that human-made noise impairs aquatic plants like seagrass. A deep-sea…This article was originally published on Mongabay

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