Shipping Traffic Noise Severely Affects Orcas HabitatsCristina Cantor (Author) Published Date : Feb 04, 2016 22:16 ET
A just published study says that the high frequency noised that is due to the heavy traffic of ships is affecting the habitats of orcas of the coasts of Washington and Canada.
The study was conducted in the waters around Seattle, Washington and suggests that the frequency of noise the shipping traffic creates is similar to that being used by the killer whales for communicating as well as hunting for prey.
To carry out their research, scientists measured the underwater sound in the Strait of Puget and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Their measurements showed that ships produce noise of a very high frequency that is able to travel much further that what was previously thought by biologists.
Orcas feed mostly on salmon. To locate prey they emit clicking noises then trap their prey through listening to an echo. The shipping noise is disturbing this process by the orcas.
The head of the study, Scott Veirs, said the team installed a number of listening devices in the habitat of the orcas to detect a number of different frequencies.
Biologist Rob Williams from the University of British Columbia says that whales must be protected on Canada s west coast. He has studied the ocean floors and has recorded sounds made by whales through installing microphones underwater.
As well as clicking noise the whales emit, the microphones picked up noises from boats and ships in the waters off Alaska.
Williams says that the endangered killer whales become distracted from feeding and reproducing because of the excessive noise.
However, he said that some positive findings came about as well. Williams revealed that even though there are some areas of the coast of British Columbia that are noisy, there are some amazingly quiet locations as well.
He suggested that the sites that are very quiet could serve as areas of acoustic refuge for the whales where they can develop and thrive in a habitat away from shipping noises.
Shipping Traffic Noise Severely Affects Orcas Habitats