Certified B Corporation Badge


Sound waves

22 April, 2022

We’re already well aware of how plastic pollution in our oceans is affecting the creatures that live in them – who could forget that Blue Planet episode? Yet it is becoming apparent that there is another type of pollution wreaking havoc with marine life.

Shipping traffic and other human activities at sea is causing a dramatic increase in the ambient level of marine noise. Creatures such as whales and dolphins communicate and map their surroundings via a variety of low and high frequency sounds. So, the disturbance from this sonic pollution can reduce marine animals’ ability to hunt for food and detect threats and potential mates. This level of disruption to vital lines of communication is already contributing to species decline.

We can’t stop cargo shipping, but we can mitigate its negative effects. Research shows that slowing speeds of commercial ships can reduce both the underwater noise it generates and total sonic pollution in nearby habitats. We can see bold approaches demonstrated by the shipping companies that are returning to traditional wind powered ships, and wind power technology can also be introduced to existing cargo vessels. A greater reliance on wind rather than propeller power might add days onto a journey but it can drastically reduce both sonic pollution and emissions.

If the majority of cargo is shipped slower, we might have to wait longer for our non-essential goods, but this small disruption could have a huge impact on the survival of our marine life.

By Jessie Smith

You might also like