When you think of the ocean what do you imagine? If you imagine a place of serenity and pristine beauty teaming with invariable diversity you would not be alone as our society’s prevailing view is that the ocean is paradise and a plentiful resource. Unfortunately, humans have proved to be unimaginably powerful and have changed the life of ocean dwellers in ways that you may not even have considered.
Regardless of how far you live from the coast, every American intimately relies on the ocean in everyday life. Most obviously, some of the food we eat comes from our world’s oceans, but we also rely on it for ingredients in many consumer goods. Most of our clothing arrives here via shipping channels that cover a large amount of area of the world’s oceans, which creates enormous sound pollution. Large ships most often create sound in the same frequency as many baleen whale species as well as some species of seals and lions. This reduces the distance they communicate with each other and, in some situations, can make it nearly impossible for whales to find each other. Imagine trying to talk to your family while having a recording playing nonsense talking noises over you at all times. It would most definitely add a layer of stress to your everyday life.
Luckily, there are some ways we can help this problem. Reducing boat traffic would be ideal, but that is unlikely to happen as our global economy continues to grow. Newer, more hydrodynamic boats that produce less noise pollution are beginning to become more commonplace and replace the old ones. But it will be a long time, if ever, before whales can return the serenity of uninterrupted communication that they once had.