It is a fact that human interventions in the oceans have generated an unprecedented impact on both marine ecosystem services and the species that enable them, including whales.
The oceans are far from being silent places. They are habitats in which underwater sounds of natural and anthropogenic origin, i.e. caused by humans, coexist. The natural sounds, of which there are many, come from whale vocalizations, fish, crustaceans, and also rain, waves, or underwater earthquakes.
On the contrary, maritime noise pollution is essentially due to anthropogenic sounds, sometimes caused unintentionally, such as the noise created by vessels sailing daily in the ocean. These noises cause whales to have problems communicating, since the range of frequencies of the vessels is the same as that of the cetaceans, so they lose the ability to communicate with each other and with their environment.
In this context, a new study published in Nature’s Scientific Reports shows that reducing a vessel’s speed to 10 knots (18.5 km/h) or less is an effective way to reduce the underwater noise made by commercial vessels.
This study, inspired by the program launched in 2014-2018 by the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, showed that financially incentivizing businesses to reduce their speeds led to a 25% reduction in noise pollution from these businesses.
Today, Chile has the opportunity to be a world example of Conservation and Sustainable Development, with the implementation of The Blue BOAT Initiative, a project led by MERI Foundation and the Ministry of the Environment that seeks to install a network of oceanographic buoys that, through a hydrophone system, will be able to detect the presence of whales in real time, to alert vessels in the area and avoid collisions.
At the same time, this project will make it possible to enhance the value of marine ecosystem services and move towards a paradigm shift and a blue economy.
It’s time for you to join in too!