Marine traffic, a threat for the whales

By Curious

The constant shipping noise is a threat for the whales. The marine traffic is increasing daily and is putting at risk the whales along the coast of British Columbia.

Killer whales are suffering the most because of their habitat. Fin and humpback whales on other hand live in more quiet waters but the increasing marine traffic will expose them also at the risk of the shipping noise. Future LNG and pipeline projects of is not making the things better.

Whales communicate with each other with the help of sound waves, the noisy ambiance will disturb their live. The communication in long distance will be impossible. A study reveals that the increased shipping noise will interfere whales to navigate, select mates, search for food. Scientists believe that military sonar and seismic surveys also could harm or worse kill whales, other cetaceans and fish.

Recent researches revealed the the ocean noise in the past 3 years had reduced the communication spaces by 50%.
The worst-case scenario will prevent the communication between whales 97 times out of 100 across a distance of up to 8 km, and between 30 and 94 times out of 100, if we take in consideration the fin and humpback whales across up to 32 km.

The most affected whales are the killer whales because of their sound wave communication at a frequency of 1.5 to 3.5 kilohertz close to the shipping noise. The other species are less affected because of their lower frequency rate.
The north coast from Kitimat to Caamano Sound is the region that is considered important because of being a habitat for humpbacks fin whales.

The development of the maritime industry and the port expansion are a threat for the quiet waters according to studies, if we consider for example Vancouver and Prince Rupert port development. More and more areas are experiencing higher and higher levels of shipping noise.
A curious fact in the history shows that in the past killer whales used to feed in Broughton Archipelago until the day when a acoustic harassment devices were installed to banish the harbour seals. It is known that these devices were removed 14 years ago but the killer whales have not returned after more than 10 years.

Researchers announced:

"This cases study serves as an important reminder that high-amplitude noise can have real and lasting consequences for animal conservation,"

The IMO organization and International Whaling Commission concentrated on the problem and hope to reduce the shipping noise in the next 10 years dramatically.
There is an idea that the speed restrictions will help to reduce the shipping noise in areas populated with whales or marine protected areas.