High-Frequency Noise From Ships Affecting Orcas Habitats

According to a new study, high-frequency noise caused due to heavy trafficking of ships in the Salish Sea is affecting the Orcas habitats. The study conducted by the Beam Reach Marine Science and Sustainability School of Seattle suggests that the frequency of noise created by shipping traffic is almost equal to that being used by killer whales for communicating and hunting their prey.

To conduct the research, scientists measured underwater sound in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget. The measurements indicate that ships produce noise of high frequency that travels much far than what biologists thought previously. Orcas mostly feed on Salmons and for locating their prey. They send out clicking noise and trap their prey by listening to the echo. This process is disturbed by the shipping noise.

According to Scott Veirs, the study head, the team had installed listening devices in the southern orcas habitat to detect a wide range of frequencies.

Marine biologists want to protect whales

Rob Williams, a biologist at the University of British Columbia, wants to protect the whales in the West Coast of Canada. He has been studying the ocean floors and recording the sounds from whales by installing microphones in water. Along with clicking noise from whales, microphones also picked up noise coming from ships and boats in the Alaska waters.

According to Williams, the endangered killer whales are being distracted from reproducing and feeding due to excessive noise. However, he says that there are some positive findings as well that can help overcome this problem.

Study of Williams revealed that although there are certain noisy areas of the B.C. coast, however, there are also some amazingly quiet places. He suggests that these sites can serve as acoustic refuge areas, where a quiet marine protected area or acoustic sanctuaries for the endangered species can be developed.