To many, our planet’s oceans appear peaceful. But underwater noise pollution is taking a toll on marine life.
The clamor is entirely human-made. It’s the whine of ship engines, the searing blasts of military exercises, and the thunderous booms of air guns searching for oil and gas.
The noise particularly affects underwater mammals like whales, which rely on sharp hearing and echolocation to communicate and look for food.
In response, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is working on a project to document these human-made noises. The sounds recorded will be transformed into the world’s first large sound maps. The hope is that these ocean visualizations will be the first step in curbing noise pollution in the underwater ecosystem.
Dr. Leila Hatch is a NOAA Ocean Noise Specialist and one of the project’s two directors.
Here's a map of the intensity of sound levels at 400Hz 15 meters below the surface in the Pacific Ocean courtesy NOAA and Duke University:
This is what the 400Hz sounds like: