Marine noise highlights study must protect Australia’s pristine waters – sciencedaily

New Curtin research has found urgent action is needed to ensure that human-made underwater noise in Australian waters does not increase to levels that could be harmful to marine animals, such as whales, and negatively impact our pristine oceans.

Lead author Professor Christine Erbe, director of the Curtin Center for Marine Science and Technology, said recent studies of the northern hemisphere have shown that man-made noise, especially from ships, often dominates the soundscape. submarine over large areas, such as entire seas, and could interfere with marine life that relies on sound for communication, navigation and foraging.

“When humans go to sea, they generate underwater noise, from boat and ship traffic, dredging, port construction, offshore exploration for oil and gas, drilling. at sea, seabed prospecting, fishing and naval exercises, which affects a wide variety of animals, including: whales, dolphins, fish and crustaceans, ”said Professor Erbe.

“We set out to measure and model underwater sound in Australia’s maritime regions and found that on average over a six-month period, ship noise was dominant only in areas that were closely localized or just below sea levels. main shipping routes when these are confined to a narrow channel. or tape.

“In most of our waters, naturally generated underwater sounds dominated and were mainly due to the consistently strong winds blowing along the southern coasts of Australia and powerful choirs of whales and fish.

Professor Erbe said that while these results show that the vast majority of Australian maritime waters are not as polluted by man-made noise as some waters in the northern hemisphere, action is needed to keep it that way.

“If you define ‘pristine’ as rich in biological sounds and diversity, and devoid of man-made noise, then Australia has several regions, not just pockets, where the seascape is undisturbed,” said the professor Erbe.

“We need to define and protect these regions by becoming more proactive in managing our marine environment.

Usually, we only become aware of an environmental problem when it is potentially too late and we find ourselves in a race to mitigate the negative impacts. But in Australia, we have the opportunity to act quickly and protect healthy environments now. “

The research was funded by the federal government’s National Environmental Science Program and the paper titled “ He Howls Often More Than He Sounds: The Sound of Wind vs. the Sound of Ships Underwater in maritime regions of Australia ” Journal of Marine Science and Engineering.

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