The ocean world is dependent on sound more so than vision. Sound travels differently in a watery medium. It moves faster and can travel longer. Water can bend sound waves too, diverting a straight line into a zigzag type of path. What is our noise, from boats, oil rigs, deep water testing, and sonar, doing to our friends who live in the sea?
My guest this week, Dr. Leesa Sklover, ocean activist, musician, and composer, says that whales, dolphins, shrimp, turtles, and zooplankton cannot escape harm from these practices. It’s disorienting, and if a whale cannot hear it’s basically dead. Disorientation causes stress chemicals and hormones to increase which has the potential to enter our food supply. She inspired me through her writing, her songs and passion to share with you the seriously detrimental effects noise pollution has on our ocean friends.
“The speed of sound in pure water is 1,498 meters per second, compared to 343 meters per second in air at room temperature and pressure.” Sound travels faster in the ocean because there are more molecules — specifically salt molecules — for waves to interact with, as well as higher surface temperatures.”(Sciencing)
Noise pollution has increased dramatically over the years. Increased shipping, advanced military sonic testing technologies, commercial boats, huge liners all contribute to noise pollution. Echolocation, finding prey becomes harder. Populations are diminishing, not only whales, dolphins, and other sea life but food for the larger species is scarce too. Factor in the inability to hear the click of a salmon due to noise pollution and we are finding whales who are malnourished and some cannot bring a fetus to full term
Legislation is against them too. The Cetacean Society states:
ACTION NEEDED: The newly released Presidential FY 2019 budget has taken direct aim at programs that are critical for the conservation of whales and dolphins. The Marine Mammal Commission (MMC), an independent government agency that provides science-based reviews of U.S. ocean policies that impact marine mammals and their environment, has been targeted for elimination. The cost of the MMC’s work to the US taxpayer? One penny per person per year.
The budget also looks to cut overall funding to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) by 14 percent. Even worse, the NMFS enforcement budget would be slashed by 25 percent putting cetaceans at risk from a variety of illegal activities. There are also serious cuts proposed to critical research on protected species, and habitat conservation and restoration.
If holism means the whole is only as strong as its parts, what’s happening in the oceans affects us. Ocean species are suffering and what are we doing to protect them? Do we have some responsibility to them as part of this world? Are we at a tipping point and seduced in thinking all is okay?
My Native elders would point to nature over and over again as precious, invaluable to life, and in a sense, nature’s operating system mirrors ours. If one part is dying, are we dying? In Earth Calling, by Ellen Gunter and Ted Carter, we are poked and prodded with facts to look around and feel something for the destruction going on and take action. Many of us enjoy these creatures from the sea. But are we doing enough to protect them from harm?
Enjoy Dr. Sklover’s song: See Me As I Am:
What are you doing? I enjoy hearing your comments/your stories. Please share. Thanks.