Sound has an important role in the marine ecosystem, as it reveals shapes, energies, boundaries, and rivals. Moreover, it connects you with unseen kin and mates. Yet, it is also damaging to the marine environment, as it kills zooplankton. In this article, we’ll explore some of the underlying reasons behind the ocean’s acoustics.
It disrupts the marine ecosystem
The increasing level of noise in the ocean is alarming, as it disrupts the marine ecosystem. This noise affects marine animals and plants, affecting their social behavior, feeding habits, and reproduction. A 2017 study found that loud noise killed two-thirds of zooplankton, the tiny organisms that are the base of the food chain. They provide food for everything from great whales to shrimp. Among them are krill, which are especially susceptible to loud noises.
There are many factors that contribute to ocean noise, ranging from seismic air guns to ship engines. Explosive fishing is one source of this noise, which is particularly disruptive in Southeast Asia and coastal Africa. Another cause is the controlled detonation of World War II bombs. Underwater oil and gas drilling is also a source of noise. This noise can be as loud as a rock concert or a rocket launch.
Scientists are working to find solutions to this problem, which has far-reaching consequences. To combat the problem, we must first understand the source of noise pollution. The causes are complex, but the main culprit is human activities. Noise pollution has increased as human activity has increased along shorelines and further offshore, and is negatively impacting marine life. It affects the animals’ ability to hear environmental cues and communicate. Because of this, the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries is looking for new ways to reduce noise and protect marine habitats.
It kills zooplankton
The process of seismic airgun blasting has been linked to increased ocean noise. These blasts are used to locate oil and gas deposits at the deepest parts of the ocean. They can be extremely loud, and they can kill zooplankton at a distance of almost a half mile. A study carried out by scientists off the coast of Tasmania measured zooplankton abundance before and after seismic blasts, and found that their numbers fell 64 percent in an hour.
This louder ocean is likely to alter the relationships between species and affect their ability to catch food, find mates, and hide from predators. It’s also likely to alter the behavior of animals by disrupting their ability to communicate with each other.