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South Coast Researcher Part Of Global Team Examining Man-Made Undersea Noise Problem

There’s a symphony of sounds taking place under the ocean’s surface.

But, what happens when these natural sounds are disrupted by things like a passing tanker?  A global team of researchers  has been documenting how manmade noise is disrupted the marine environment, and looking at ways to deal with the issue.

Dr. Ben Halpern is co-author of the new project.  He’s Director of the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, at UC Santa Barbara.

Researchers from around the world pulled together information from a number of studies to examine the problem, as well as possible solutions.

The researcher says assessing sound can be a way of gauging the health of the ocean.  He notes that people don’t realize that undersea noise can travel hundreds, and under the right conditions even thousands of miles.

The noise can do everything from disrupt communication between undersea life to the spatial systems of creatures like some fish which relay on sound for navigation.

Halpern says being in the ocean is like walking through a forest, with its own unique sounds.

The researcher talks about some of the things which can be done to address the noise issue.  He says steps range from minor design changes to propellers which can make them much quieter, to timing noisy underwater construction so it doesn’t conflict with migrating whales.

Halpern says while this part of the project is complete with a research paper released this week, he now wants to focus on how the sound issue fits into bigger ways humans are impacting the ocean.