BEIJING, May 8 (Upi) — Jacques Cousteau, a famous French undersea explorer, released the Oscar-winning documentary “The Silent World” in 1956, inspiring generations to explore the beautiful and fragile sounds of the sea floor. Now, researchers worry that growing human noise is destroying marine life, which from humans could make it more aggressive.
Existing scientific studies have shown that living in the ocean communicates, finds food and navigates by making sounds. In fact, the underwater world is so noisy that sonar operators during World War II often confuse the sounds of whales with the sounds of German U-submarines. Today, most of the world’s underwater noise is from humans, or “man-made”, including shipping, fishing, resource exploration, construction and military operations, and the amount of man-made noise is increasing.
There is growing evidence that persistent human noise can alter a range of marine life systems and behaviours, from “communication links” to “predator feeding.”
More aggressive to “neighbors”
(Pictured: French undersea explorer Cousteau)
Researchers from the University of Bristol and the University of Exeter, who worked on coral reefs near the French polynesia island of Morea, asked 40 pairs of clown fish to listen to a two-day recording of natural coral reef sounds or motorboat noise. Experiments show that the noise from the boat’s motor causes clown fish to hide in the tentacles of anemones, reduces the frequency of foraging into open waters, and makes more aggressive to the three-spotted mud fish that also live in anemones. Scientists from France, Chile and the UK have also found that noise-affected anemone fish around coral reefs around the South Pacific islands do not respond appropriately to additional stress, which may put them at greater risk and more vulnerable to predators and climate change.
In the United States alone, there are about 12 million registered motorboats. Reducing noise pollution should in principle be easier to deal with than climate change. Scientists recommend a “sea quiet zone” where motorboats should be banned or use quieter engines.
Andy Radford, professor of behavioral ecology at the University of Bristol, said the clownfish study added to the evidence and would prompt the legislature to take action to reduce pollution from marine noise.
As The French undersea explorer Cousteau, who died in 1997, put it: “For most of history, man had to fight against nature in order to survive, and in this century, man began to realize that it had to be protected in order to survive.” “