Marine scientists have discovered that underwater noise has an impact and adversly affects whales almost 200km away. In light of the news filtering in of prospecting rights been given for possible mining off the sensitive Zululand coast, this is something that should be strongly considered while debating the impact on our environment. Given that this is a major migratory route for whales, it should be of particular concern to eveyone.
Marine biologists working in Massachusetts waters noticed that humpback whales sang less during the fall of 2006, when a low frequency signal showed up in their recordings.
Previous research suggests that nearby underwater noise from ships, airguns, underwater explosions and sonar may cause hearing damage and changes in feeding, mating and communication among marine mammals. But this is the first time whales have been reported reacting to man-made sounds from so far away.
According to Christopher Clark, director of Bioacoustics Research Program at Cornell University : “Whales are extremely social creatures with a remarkable ability to play with sounds. When a male humpback starts to sing, it may keep going for weeks at a time.”