Noise pollution in the sea plays an important role in disturbing the life of marine organisms. This occurs due to various human or anthropogenic activities in the sea and leads to a negative impact on various marine animals like fishes, whales and other mammal organisms. The noise produced from the ships in the sea hampers the health of marine ecosystems, leads to damage of cochlea, alters the social behavior of organisms and masks the auditory functions. (Nowacek et al., 2015).This report explains the causes of noise pollution from ships and its impact on the livelihood of marine lives.
In the last century, sound produced from holiday ships, cargo ships, sonar ,drilling activities, seismic testing, pile drivers has grown to a large extent because of the anthropogenic activities. This lead to an increase in the level of noise in underwater due to increase in the activities of human beings which leads to a new type of pollution known as noise pollution. Noise plays an important role in causing stress in various marine animals and it leads to increase in the mortality rate. It also disturbs the auditory functioning and communication between the animals and leads to an unbalance in the interaction of predator and the prey (Simmonds et al., 2014).It has become an international concern these days about the negative impact of anthropogenic activities on the life of marine organisms. The ill effects on animals depend on the frequency and the intensity of the sound produced from ships.
The environment in the sea consists of both abiotic and biotic sound, which are directly interlinked to the life and the reproduction of organisms in the marine environment (Williams et al.,2014).Fishes,invertebrate and mammal organisms produce biotic sounds, which are important in echolocation, communicating with other organisms, detection of mate and prey and orientation (Merchant et al.,2016). Anthropogenic sound is included under abiotic sound sources that help in providing the information about the environment surrounding them.
In the last decade, amount of noises produced by the anthropogenic activities has increased at a constant rate. Application of sonar is used by various commercial ships and produces noise of high intensity. Various other ships produce a noise of intensity. Increase in the number of cargo ships and recreational boats have increased at a greater rate in the 21st century. Around the Australian coast, developments of ports, growth in shipping, exploration of oil and gas has increased many risks in relation to the health of marine organism due to noise pollution.
Construction of new ports in the Great Barrier Reef, NSW Ports, Gold and Sunshine Coast has lead to an increase in the traffic of ships, which increases the level of noise pollution and leads to a negative impact on the health of whales and dolphins. The biodiversity in Great Barrier Reef in Queensland is under threat due to shipping activities (Hammad, Akbarnezhad & Rey, 2016). The main reasons of environmental impact of ships on the marine life are that noise travels much faster in water and covers a larger distance as compared to that on land and the other reason is that marine organisms are extremely sensitive to the noise produced due to ships in the sea. It disrupts many activities like search for food and various mechanisms to protect them from the noise pollution produced in the sea. The noise produced from the ships has lead to a decrease in the population of dolphins and whales and they dislocate themselves from one place to other to protect themselves. Sometimes, these organisms fail to adapt to the new environment, which leads to various health issues and ultimately death. This leads to decrease in the biodiversity of marine environment.
The sound produced from noise pollution leads to panic among the organisms. It also causes damage to internal organisms and leads to hemorrhages. It changes the diving pattern of animals in the sea and migration to new places disrupts the balance in the marine diversity. This imbalance also has a negative effect on human beings. There is variation in the sensitivity of marine organisms. Fishes, mollusks and prawns are more sensitive to noise produced from the ships in the sea and whales and dolphins are less sensitive and a have a greater strength to combat noise pollution.
Noise pollution from the cruise ships, large cargo vessels and supertankers is produced from their generators, engines, propellers and bearings. The frequency range of these ships is in the range of 20-300 Hz and this range is used by many whale species (Kunc, McLaughlin, & Schmidt, 2016).This makes it difficult for the whales to communicate with each other and it leads to confusion to distinguish between the noise from the ship and the sounds from natural organisms. This leads to collisions and accidents leading the death of organisms.According to researchers, it was reported that around 33 % of whales and dolphins they researched on had a disrupted auditory functioning (Dolman & Jasny, 2015).It has also been observed that noise pollution can reduce the recruitment of population of some species of marine organisms. High intensity of sound leads to increase in the level of various hormones like dopamine, norepinephrine and epinephrine in marine organisms. It also leads to various stress responses like it stimulates the nervous activity, increase of metabolism rate and reduction of immunity power (Caric, 2015).
The noise pollution from ships and its impact on the livelihood of marine lives has become an important concern in the 21st century. It has lead to various health issues, behavior problems, auditory imbalances and psychological stresses in the marine organisms such as fishes, whales and dolphins. It has lead to decrease in the biodiversity in the marine environment. Government and international organizations in Australia are taking various measures and strategies to reduce noise pollution and its negative impact on the life of marine organisms. They are focusing on reducing the level of noise in whale habitats and changing the route of ships to prevent noise pollution from disturbing the marine ecosystems.
Caric, H. (2015). Challenges and prospects of valuation e cruise ship pollution case. Journal of Cleaner Production, 30, 1e12.
Dolman, S. J., & Jasny, M. (2015). Evolution of Marine Noise Pollution Management. Aquatic Mammals, 41(4), 357.
Hammad, A. W. A., Akbarnezhad, A., & Rey, D. (2016). Accounting for Noise Pollution in Planning of Smart Cities. In Smart Cities as a Solution for Reducing Urban Waste and Pollution (pp. 149-196). IGI Global.
Kunc, H. P., McLaughlin, K. E., & Schmidt, R. (2016, August). Aquatic noise pollution: implications for individuals, populations, and ecosystems. In Proc. R. Soc. B (Vol. 283, No. 1836, p. 20160839). The Royal Society.
Merchant, N. D., Pirotta, E., Barton, T. R., & Thompson, P. M. (2014). Monitoring ship noise to assess the impact of coastal developments on marine mammals. Marine pollution bulletin, 78(1), 85-95.
Nowacek, D. P., Clark, C. W., Mann, D., Miller, P. J., Rosenbaum, H. C., Golden, J. S., ... & Southall, B. L. (2015). Marine seismic surveys and ocean noise: time for coordinated and prudent planning. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 13(7), 378-386.
Simmonds, M. P., Dolman, S. J., Jasny, M., Parsons, E. C. M., Weilgart, L., Wright, A. J., & Leaper, R. (2014). Marine noise pollution-increasing recognition but need for more practical action.
Williams, R., Erbe, C., Ashe, E., Beerman, A., & Smith, J. (2014). Severity of killer whale behavioral responses to ship noise: a dose–response study. Marine pollution bulletin, 79(1), 254-260.
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