Ocean noise is preventing Minke Whales from communicating

Hyperaxion February 24, 2020 6:57 pm

A decrease in the reach of the noise produced by these animals can make the relationship between partners and contact with other individuals of the same species more difficult.

Scientists have found that Minke whales are unable to communicate over long distances because of noise pollution in the ocean caused by human activities.

According to them, this affects their ability to find partners and to establish contact with other members of their kind.

The research article was published in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America.

Methodology

The researchers analyzed the behavior of more than 42,000 whales through recordings made in a 1200 square kilometer area of the Pacific Missile Range Facility, a naval facility and airport in the United States, between 2012 and 2017.

The experts measured the range of the sound produced by the whales and calculated their intensity.

The team compared the results with the noise produced by animals in “natural” conditions, that is, when there are no sounds produced by human activity.

Minke whales are struggling to communicate over long distances because of noise pollution in the oceans.
Minke whales are struggling to communicate over long distances because of noise pollution in the oceans. (Source: Flickr).

The results

Scientists found that the animals’ sound got louder in more noisy conditions, which resulted in a decrease in the distance the sound could travel.

For example, the group found that in an environment with relatively low noise, the whales can be heard 114 kilometers (70 miles) away.

However, as noise levels increased, that range dropped to just 19 kilometers (11 miles).

“It is a change of order of magnitude in the reach of communication. It is difficult to know to what extent they need to communicate, this can have a really negative impact,” said one of the researchers, Regina Guazzo, to Science.

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