Every time a modern container ship churns through the ocean, it puts 190 decibels of sound energy in the water. That's about as loud as standing in the middle of an exploding bomb—and it's a major problem for marine animals, which rely on sound, not sight, to survive. At any given time, there are 60,000 commercial ships in the ocean.
These short animated clips from the documentary Sonic Sea tell the story.
First, sound can travel incredibly long distances underwater:
A sound in the Indian Ocean can even make it to Washington State:
Without ships around, there's a symphony of animal sound underwater. Here, ocean researcher Christopher Clark talks about the first time he put headphones on to listen under ice in the Arctic.
For whales or dolphins or other marine animals, sound is critical to survival, but human noise—from ships, and from other industry like oil drilling—is making it almost impossible to hear.
Every 10 years, noise pollution doubles.
Read here to learn more about the problem of ocean noise pollution—and possible solutions.
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