Underwater acoustic pollution
Costa, Daniel P. Department of Biology and Institute of Marine Science, University of California, Santa Cruz, California.
Hayes, Sean A. Department of Biology and Institute of Marine Science, University of California, Santa Cruz, California.
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The ocean is hardly the “silent world” described by Jacques Cousteau. It is a noisy place where wind chop, crashing surf, earthquakes, breaking ice, and calling animals generate an undulating background of diverse sounds. The marine environment is a dense particulate-filled medium that inhibits the conduction of light but at the same time enables sound to travel much farther and faster than it does in the terrestrial world. As a result, marine mammals rely on sound for most aspects of their life history. Toothed whales use high-frequency biosonar to locate prey and to learn about their environment. Baleen whales use low-frequency sounds for long-distance communication and possibly navigation. Sound plays an important role in the mating behavior of most whale and many seal species. It has been suggested that most marine mammals may use passive listening to aid in location of prey, avoidance of predators, and navigation during migration. Given the importance of sound to marine mammals, it is likely that they are sensitive to anthropogenic noise.
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