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Ocean Noise May be Killing Off Species

A study by researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography shows that the underwater world is becoming a noisier place, with unknown effects on marine life. They?ve discovered that there has been a tenfold increase in the underwater ocean noise off Southern California?s coast in the last 40 years. This has to be having a bad effect on marine species, especially those?like whales and dolphins?that communicate with each other underwater.

Researchers Mark McDonald, John Hildebrand and Sean Wiggins studied acoustic data recorded in 1964-1966 from declassified U.S. Navy documents and compared them to acoustic recordings made in 2003-2004 in the same area of ocean off San Diego. The results showed that noise levels in 2003-2004 were 10 to 12 decibels higher than in 1964-1966, an average noise increase rate of three decibels per decade.

The reason? A huge increase in shipping, along with the more powerful engines used on these ships, in order to make them faster. Much of this shipping comes from Asia. The world?s commercial fleet has more than doubled in the past 40 years.

Hildebrand says, "?What can be done to protect marine animals? For instance, it may be appropriate to move shipping lanes away from areas where there are concentrations of marine animals."

Art credit: freeimages.co.uk

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