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Ocean and White Noise - the Sounds of Sonar and Whale Beaching

Coast of Tasmania's King Island

Coast of Tasmania's King Island

Whale Beachings

There is a huge quantity of white noise in our oceans caused mostly by humans. Many are concerned that ocean sounds may be the cause of mass whale beaching. Today many questions are raised by scientists, researchers, and biologists. The biggest question is whether the sonar and white noise induced by humans is harmful or even lethal to all marine life.

Marine animals depend on sound for communication, breeding, navigation, and feeding. Not only are the vocalizations of whales, dolphins and fish distinct from each other but most species have more than one way to communicate with each other by the use of sound.

Low-frequency Sound Waves in Ocean Cause Borate to Lose an -OH Group

Low-frequency Sound Waves in Ocean Cause Borate to Lose an -OH Group

Ocean Noise Volume Increases

For the past 60 years, ocean and white noise has drastically increased in volume. According to the World Wide Whale association (a company of researchers dedicated to whale survival), ocean noise rose 10 decibels between 1950 and 1975, a 900% increase in 25 years. (Ocean Noise) Today, ocean noise can be as high as 250 decibels which is equivalent to the takeoff of a commercial jet plane (Ocean Noise).

There are 2 basic problems associated with ocean sounds and white noise. One is the ambient noise level that is created by underwater explosive detonations, shipping traffic, echo sounding, and other industrial sounds. Ambient noise in the ocean is a real problem because sound waves propagate 12 times faster through water than they do in air. Any noise generated in water travels much further and carries a lot more energy. When ambient noise is generated, it is thought to interfere with a whale's ability to communicate, locate mates, find food, and possibly cause long term hearing loss. The second more deadly noise is the focused sound that is created by Sonar at high frequency low to mid-level which is used in war games by Navy submarines and surface ships.

Beached Whales on Coast of Hamelin Bay W. Australia

Beached Whales on Coast of Hamelin Bay W. Australia

Beached Whales

On September 24, 2002, more than a dozen beaked whales for which eight died were beached on the Canary Islands west of Africa. The Los Angeles Times reported that the whale beaching was followed by a NATO exercise. It is believed that the US Navy's use of sonar of ocean sounds and noise is to blame for the mass beaching of whales.

In March 2000, there were mass whale beaching on the shores of the Bahamas. Necropsies of six dead whales showed that there was hemorrhaging around the ears and brain most likely caused by intense interior vibrations of mid-frequency sound waves or sonar (Researchers Probe).

By April 2001, the US Navy requested that they be exempt from federal law for harassment or the killing of whales by using sonar for the detection of super quiet submarines. As well, the Navy officials vowed to not use any sonar within a kilometer of any marine mammal including whales and sea turtles (U.S. Navy Asks to be Exempted).

Worldwide Ocean Noise

Worldwide Ocean Noise

Ocean Sound Channels

Some researchers believe that animals use the oceans sound channels to communicate over thousands of miles. Many experts say that by polluting the ocean with intense high and low frequencies we are interfering with natural ocean communication and harming marine animal life.

Today, even with new technology, it is hard to determine how much sound interferes with marine life. Ocean sounds and white noise cannot be monitored worldwide. Data that is collected from small sites are only measured in certain frequencies. Even more perplexing, underwater sound seems to affect marine animals in completely different ways.

According to Joel Reynolds, director of the Marine Mammal Program at the Natural Resource Defense Council, evidence shows that marine animals are changing their sound patterns and rates which could show that their normal communication has been disrupted (Oceans Getting Louder).

To reduce ocean and white noise, Kathy Metcalf, director of Marine Affairs at the Chamber of Shipping in America, states that installing quieter propellers in new ships would likely benefit the industry by increasing the efficiency of ships moving through water, but installing quieter propellers in current ships would be quite expensive and the benefits are not scientifically proven (Oceans Getting Louder).

Presently we are faced with numerous decisions and obstacles. The U.S. Navy depends on sonar for our national defense and our economy relies on an enormous amount of shipping. According to the Navel Medical Labor Research Laboratory (NSMRL), a healthy highly performing submarine force is essential to the nation's security (Fact Sheet). Yet many researchers feel that it is essential to preserve ocean life not only for humanities sake but for mankind's survival; we rely on the ocean for food, the weather, and to cure diseases; any disruption could be detrimental and irreversible.

Loud Blast or Sound Wave Emitted into the Ocean

Loud Blast or Sound Wave Emitted into the Ocean

How Sound and Hearing Works

Sound is created by the collision of molecules that expand and contract, thus changing air pressure. The changes in air pressure travels to the eardrum and slightly vibrates the middle ear. These vibrations are amplified 20 times, causing pressure waves within the fluid of the cochlea (where small hair cells in the middle ear are embedded). As a result of the movement, around 20,000 hair cells of the cochlea are bent, which creates impulses in the cochlear nerves to the brain. These impulses are sent to temporal lobe in the cerebrum (front part of the brain) and then interpreted as sound.

The volume of sound is determined by the number of hair cells stimulated and the pitch is determined by the distribution pattern of stimulated cells. Pitch is the highness or lowness of a sound. The pitch determines the speed of vibration of the sound wave. High pitches are fast vibrations, whereas low pitches are slower vibrations.

The amount of energy in the sound wave determines the loudness of the sound. A sound is louder the closer you are to the source and softer the further away you are. Eventually the sound wave travels far enough and it is absorbed by the air or an object such as a wall.

Under water, sound moves quite differently. The colliding molecules in water are spaced closer together and lose less energy before colliding with other molecules thereby creating a faster and more efficient sound. Under water sound goes five times farther and faster than in air. In conclusion, ocean sounds and white noise are far more intense than above water.

Dead Pilot Whale on Coast of New Zealand Islands

Dead Pilot Whale on Coast of New Zealand Islands

Recent State of Affairs

In Hawaii, July 2004, there were mass whale beaching. According to the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA) report, there is a strong connection between the Navy's use of sonar transmitted July 2-3, 2004 and the beaching. Although biological factors and weather were ruled out, the NOAA stated that the strandings may never be unequivocally determined (Findings on Whales). However, many specialists feel that it is the increase of ocean sounds, white noise and sonar that may be the cause.

On January 15, 2005, off the coast of North Carolina, more than three dozen whale beaching. Immediately preceding the incident the Navy was testing sonar at a proposed 600 square mile Undersea Warfare Training Range. The NOAA's report again ruled out any biological factors and weather as the cause. Yet the NOAA concluded that "given the occurrence of the event simultaneously in time and space with a naval exercise using active sonar, the association between the naval sonar activity and the location and timing of the event could be causal rather than a coincidental relationship. However, evidence supporting a definitive association is lacking" (Findings on Whales).

With the NOAA report, many questioned why they ruled out sonar. Some feel that if may have been an unedited reflection of the understanding of the event, while others feel political pressures of establishing the Undersea Warfare Training Range influences the report (Findings on Whales).

Meanwhile, according to the documents released to the National Resources Defense Council, all references to the Navy's use of sonar and possible cause of the whale beaching were deleted from the report. A new NOAA report was released, stating that the cause of the whale beaching was "unclear" (Findings on Whales).

Dead Pilot Whales on Coast of New Zealand Islands

Dead Pilot Whales on Coast of New Zealand Islands

Scroll to Continue

Current Whale Beaching

A Feb 15, 2010 research article from tree reports that a death toll of 128 pilot whales beached on the shore of a New Zealand island over the past few months. The whale beaching has left scientists and conversationalists perplexed. The most current tragedy totaled 28 pilot whales that were beached on the shore of a small New Zealand island. According to reports there were 9 whales that were already dead before they beached and 19 of the pilot whales suffered immensely and were euthanized. Reports show that there have been a devastating total of 168 whales that have beached and died just over the last few months.

This is the fourth overwhelming report on whale beaching during the last couple of months. So far a total of 140 pilot whales were stranded and died. A total of 76 whales were saved by conservation work teams.

The same New Zealand islands had a similar occurrence of whale beaching in 2003. There were a total of 160 whales that died. Although the beaching remain a mystery, experts say the New Zealand islands are a direct path for whales that are on their way to the South Pacific to breed. Were the beaching caused by intense ocean and white noise?

Baby Dolphin Found Stranded in Uruguay, November 2010

Baby Dolphin Found Stranded in Uruguay, November 2010

Changing Migration Patterns

2009: Scientists have documented case studies of Blue whales changing their migration patterns from the California coast to British Columbia and the Gulf of Alaska. According to Marine Mammal Science research experts from Cascadia Research Collective in Washington state, Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and NOAA's Southwest Fisheries Science Center in California identified 15 different cases of blue whales changing their migration pattern. Many experts agree that intense ocean sounds and white noise may be the cause.

Beached Whales on the Coast of Tasmanias King Island

Beached Whales on the Coast of Tasmanias King Island

Some of the Many Tragedies

  • June 2004: Ōpoutere, South Auckland New Zealand, 74 pilot whales beached, 2 saved
  • March 2008, stranding in Senegal more than a 100 beached pilot whales 60 whales had released back into the ocean, 38 whales sadly died
  • June 2008: Cornwall England, 26 dolphins are beached and die
  • June 2008: Madagascar Africa, more than 100 melon headed whales beached and died
  • February 2009: Manila Bay Philippines, Around 200 - 300 dolphins are beached, all were saved but 3
  • March 2009: Hamelin Bay Australia, Around 80 whales and dolphins beached, 55 died
  • March 2009: Tasmania's King Island, 194 pilot whales and 6-7 bottlenose dolphins beached
  • April 2009: Hamelin Bay Australia, 90 long-finned pilot whales beached
  • May 2009: Kommetjie beach in Cape Town, South Africa, 55 pilot whales beached and volunteers managed to move 20 back into the sea. The remaining died
  • February 2010: New Zealand Islands, In a few month's time 168 pilot whales are beached and die
Beached Whales Tasmania Australia

Beached Whales Tasmania Australia


In August 2003 the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC) won a federal court suit that ruled illegal, the Navy's plan to use LFA (low frequency) sonar in 75% of the world's oceans. The Navy had agreed to limit the use of low frequency sonar in the area originally proposed by negotiated geographical limits and seasonal exclusions. For national security, none of the limits would apply during war or heightened threat conditions (Protecting Whales).

Shortly after the August 2003 federal settlement, the Bush administration legislated through congress that exempted the U.S. Military from core provisions of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, allowing the use of high-intensity sonar and underwater explosives (Protecting Whales).

In October 2005, the NRDC brought suit in the U.S. federal court asking the Navy to take common sense precautions during peacetime training with mid-frequency sonar. The measure included rich marine habitat off limits, the avoidance of migration routes and feeding or breeding areas when marine mammals were present, and listening with passive sonar to ensure marine mammals are not in the testing area before using sonar (Protecting Whales).

On June 29, 2006, the NRDC, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, the Cetacean Society International, the Ocean Futures Society, and Jean-Michel Cousteau filed a federal lawsuit to stop the U.S. Navy from using high-intensity sonar in a 210,000 square mile area around Hawaii called the RIMPAC 2006 (U.S. Navy Sued).

This lawsuit will challenge the National Marine Fisheries Service that authorized the Navy to "take" (harass, hunt, or kill) as many as 25,000 marine mammals by blasting high-intensity and mid-frequency sonar during exercises and reduce ocean sounds. The suit is requesting a temporary order to restrain the use of high-intensity and mid-frequency sonar during the Navy's exercises unless effective measures are taken to prevent harm to marine life (U.S. Navy Sued).

Dead Whale on the Coast of  Franz Josef New Zealand

Dead Whale on the Coast of Franz Josef New Zealand

The Navy

Wendy Williams (a researcher from the Audubon Society) feels that little is understood about how marine animals and other marine life experiences ocean sound and white noise. In March 2000, beached whales were stranded on the beaches of the Bahamas. In William's report, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) sent their own scientists to do necropsies. Two of the whales were sent to Darlene Ketten (an auditory specialist) of Harvard University and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The studies showed that the whales probably beached themselves due to some intense underwater noise from a distant explosion or underwater landslide (Noise Pollution).

Williams stated that the Navy is spending 3 million a year studying the effects of sound on marine animals, which is more than half the money spent worldwide on such research (Noise Pollution).

In a report from David Kohn, the Navy had already spent 300 million in 2002 on a sonar system designed to detect super quiet submarines by using low frequency, the same frequencies that whales use to communicate (Sonic Blast).

Williams stated that Paula Storum (a Navy spokeswoman) says that with careful precautions by using a warning system to detect nearby whales and dolphins, the technology will not hurt animals (Noise Pollution).


Fact Sheet. Navel Submarine Medical Research Laboratory, May 10, 2002

Findings on Whales and Sonar Remain Murky. OMB Watch, 2004

Noise Pollution, Not-So-Silent Seas. Audubon Field Notes, Wendy Williams, 2000

Ocean Noise. 2006.

Oceans Getting Louder; Effects Unclear. Associated Press, Jay Lindsay, April 18, 2005

Protecting Whales from Dangerous Sonar Following a historic victory, NRDC steps up the campaign at home and abroad to regulate active sonar systems that harm marine mammals. NRDC The Earth's Best Defense, Natural Resource Council, 09 Nov, 2005

Researchers Probe Whether Sonar Caused Deaths of Whales. Los Angeles Times, Kenneth Weiss, September 26, 2002

Sonic Blast. Mother Jones, Smart, fearless Journalism, David Kohn, Sept/Oct, 2002

U.S. Navy Asks to be Exempted from Federal Law Forbidding Harassment or Killing of Whales. Los Angeles Times, Kenneth Weiss, April 26, 2001

U.S. Navy Sued to Stop Sonar During RIMPAC War Games. Environmental News Service, AmeriScan 29 June, 2006, April 26, 2001:

Environment News Service, June 2006:


mecheshier (author) on September 24, 2016:

Sorry for the delay in responding. For some strange reason, I was not getting my comments.

Yes indeed. It is very very sad.

TY for the link. I love it!

maryJane on October 16, 2015:

Thanks for this interesting hub. It´s sad to read how many animals die, though.. What I do find great, are the sounds that animals can make.

If you´re interested in white noise in general, there´s a great youtube channel here, which provides white noise videos:

mecheshier (author) on May 27, 2013:

Hi Emma

Wow, thank you for all your kind words. Yes, more people need to be informed. For quite a few years (over 10) there have been studies that proved sonar is very harmful to marine life. it is so sad to see thees amazing creatures beached. Spread the word. :-)

Emma on May 27, 2013:

I just finished watching the Mermaid special on Animal Planet & that's how I became informed about the the navy's usage of sonar waves and how harmful they can be to marine life. Regardless of whether or not people believe in these scientists and their clsims and evidence of mermaids (which I do believe) something has to be done about tge usage of these harmful sonar waves. There must be more done and more people informed. This conversation has to continue & not be forgotten and put aside like most other issues. Dolphins are one of the most intelligent creatures on this planet and whales one if the most fascinating, how selfish and war orientated could humanity be? I want to do anything and everything an 18 yr old could possibly do to help this cause.

mecheshier (author) on May 27, 2013:

Hi joe in the gulf

Thank you for your amazing feedback. I am glad the article has inspired research on the matter.

joe in the gulf on May 26, 2013:

Superb read! Very informative just furthers my interest in wanting to research more of this marine information we should all consider.

mecheshier (author) on May 11, 2013:

Hi Kennith Avery

Thank you so much. Your feedback is well appreciated!

Kenneth Avery from Hamilton, Alabama on May 11, 2013:

This hub was beyond good. Amazing is the best way I can describe this. Great in-depth story that needed telling and re-telling. Voted up and away. Keep up the great writing.

mecheshier (author) on May 11, 2013:

Hi Bondie007

Thank you so much for the wonderful feedback. There are years of research in this report/post. I am glad that you found it a great read.

Peter Ford from South of England on May 11, 2013:

Wow! Now that's what I call a hub. Packed with interesting information - a great read. I'm happy to call this an awesome hub!

mecheshier (author) on July 17, 2012:

Thank muayguy for the complement. I am glad that you enjoyed it.

muayguy from Berlin, Germany on July 17, 2012:

This Hub is just too awesome to be true, amazing job mecheshier, thank you for this.

mecheshier (author) on July 07, 2012:

Here here! We do need to change a lot of damage we have done to our earth. One of the reasons I love HubPages is that I can educate people what is going on and what we as a race can do. Thank you for your great feedback, support, kind words and kudos. You are a gem!

mecheshier (author) on July 07, 2012:

Yes, it is a sad ordeal. Whales are not the only creatures being affected by ocean noise. There are approx. 119 species that use sound as the primary means of communicating, navigating and hunting for food. TY for the vote

mecheshier (author) on July 07, 2012:

Thanks dwachira. Yes laws would be nice. Unfortunately, the sonar focus is on national security.

mecheshier (author) on July 07, 2012:

ChristyWrites, thank you. Yes there are many years of research here. I am glad that you got a lot out of the article. TY for the kudos.

Danson Wachira from Nairobi, Kenya on July 07, 2012:

Excellent article, i really enjoyed reading this one. I hope international laws concerning international waters and marine life would be enhanced to protect these creatures.

Christy Birmingham from British Columbia, Canada on July 07, 2012:

What a resource! Your hub is well-researched and stocked full of information. I learned so much yet much of this saddens me. Thank-you for providing this information.

DS Duby from United States, Illinois on July 05, 2012:

Very well researched hub, it saddens me to hear of so many animals suffering because of our arrogance. More people certainly need to know more about ocean noise. Voted up, awesome, interesting and shared.

Derdriu on July 03, 2012:

Mecheshier, You do a really great job of making scientific information understandable and user-friendly. What you say certainly is convincing because of your writing style. I like how you give explanations and support what you describe through examples in the text and equivalents in pictures, which can speak as loudly as words.

It's sad that human activity is impacting underwater communication and health of sea critters. But hopefully, now that readers of your article know about this problem, things will change. Humans caused the problem so humans, let's fix it.

Up + UABI.

Respectfully, and with thanks for sharing your concern, your experience, and your expertise, Derdriu

mecheshier (author) on July 01, 2012:

Why thank you Kennith. I am honored. There is years of research in this article. Whales are a favorite of mine also.

mecheshier (author) on July 01, 2012:

Thank you Topaz Blue. I am glad that it got you thinking.

topaz blue on July 01, 2012:

Wonderful, wonderful hub! Very thought provoking.

Topaz Blue

mecheshier (author) on June 30, 2012:

Why thank you Kennith. I am honored. There is years of research in this article. Whales are a favorite of mine also.

Kenneth Avery from Hamilton, Alabama on June 28, 2012:

what a fantastic hub! Well-presented; very enjoyable. Voted up and away on this masterpiece hub. Whales, the saving of and watching them are my favorite pasttimes.


mecheshier (author) on June 27, 2012:

Thank you aboutaustralia. yes indeed it is a terrible plight and being swept under the rug by the media and governing bodies. Thanks for the vote. This article took years of research. I knew the displaced inventor electrosound which lead to Sonar He truly suffered for his invention.

aboutaustralia from Newcastle, New South Wales on June 27, 2012:

What an excellent hub. Disturbing but very enlightening. Voted up - Awesome! Great work in drawing attention to the terrible plight of our ocean going friends.

mecheshier (author) on June 01, 2012:

You have that right Eliza. This was supposed to be an objective article. But it sure makes me angry. There are many solutions but dilemmas as well.

Lisa McKnight from London on June 01, 2012:

So sad when this happens. We are missing something here I think ... about how animals need protection and care if human activities are not compatible.

mecheshier (author) on June 01, 2012:

Thank you Turtlewoman. Yes I Read your Hub on whales. I really liked it. I plan on updating this Hub soon. I found more information on whale beachings. You just don't see these new briefs in the headlines much, but unfortunately the have not lessened. So sad indeed.

Kim Lam from California on May 31, 2012:

Wow, this is a very informative and well written hub on whale beaching. I just wrote a hub last week on whale watching tours, and it saddens me to read this hub. I do think it's an important issue, however. Whales are amazing creatures, as well as the other marine animals, and unfortunately humans and technology can have such an impact on their natural habitat.

Thanks for putting together this hub. Voted up and shared.

mecheshier (author) on May 31, 2012:

Thank you leigh anns page. Yes, ocean noise is pretty damaging not only to whales but many ocean mammals.

leigh anns page from New Jersey on May 31, 2012:

A very well put together and very interesting article. I had not realized what an impact we humans have on marine life. The pictures are very moving. I hope that the world will continue to learn and be more proactive in an much needed effort to lower noise pollution

mecheshier (author) on May 29, 2012:

Why thank you NBradshaw; what a compliment. Images do help on a page to keep the reader engaged. Not to many people have the patience to read an article that only contains text. Then again, an article that has a lot of advertisements is to busy and will deter the reader away real fast. Layout is so important as well as an engaging article.

NBradshaw on May 29, 2012:

It shows. The style of writing was simple and engaging. The pictures added to your words. The impact of your images and your style of writing was very persuasive.

mecheshier (author) on May 29, 2012:

Thank you NBradshaw. I am glad that you like it. There is years of research here.

NBradshaw on May 29, 2012:

Wow!What a fascinating article.

mecheshier (author) on May 24, 2012:

Hi aviannovice. Thank you Yes, humanity, politics, etc. Sad to say, it is a matter of time for many creatures.

Deb Hirt from Stillwater, OK on May 24, 2012:

This information is wonderful. Seems to me that the problem is humanity(as usual), and we must come up with a viable solution, or whales and other viable sea mammals existence is just a matter of time

mecheshier (author) on May 23, 2012:

Wow Molly. Talk about timing. Whales are beautiful creatures and there is so much denial in our system about the damage being caused.

The concert you attended sounded so wonderful that it brought goosebumps to my skin. I bet it was amazing. Whales sing such a sad song nowadays.

Mary Strain from The Shire on May 23, 2012:

Mecheshier, this spoke to me. I attended a concert last night called "Vox Balaenae" or "Voice of the Whale" and was blown away by the composer's beautiful "whale songs." They are such mysterious and beautiful creatures and it's a shame they aren't better protected. Interesting hub!

mecheshier (author) on August 31, 2011:

Hi Seeker 7

Yes, it is so sad, and now we have the chemical and oil spills. :-(

Thank you for the great feedback.

Helen Murphy Howell from Fife, Scotland on August 31, 2011:

Great hub and so sad! Yet again humans are responsible for the harmful affects on our wildlife.

I was watching a documentary recently either on NatGeo or Animal Planet and scientists made recordings of the noise made by ships etc. They played it back and it was horrendous!! No wonder marine life is being so badly affected by noise pollution.

But you've done a wonderful job to highlight this issue to many more people. Many thanks for sharing.

mecheshier (author) on August 14, 2011:

Thank you quester. Yes very frightening. I am glad that you got a lot out of it. on August 06, 2011:

extremely well written and informational HUB - and very frighten.


mecheshier (author) on August 06, 2011:

Dear mstocker

Thank you for your response. As you well know, there is more than the speed of sound to consider in calculating the inner and middle ear damage to oceanic life.

I will address your concerns but "inaccuracies" is a non-professional misplaced word.

You are right about the "decibels". When proofreading my article I do believe Word did an autocorrect. How that got by me I do not know. Thank you for the heads up.

Sound waves do travel a lot faster through solids and water than air. But please keep in mind that Acoustic velocities for humans is between 20 Hz - 20,000. For Beluga whales it is between 1,000 - 120,000 Hz and dolphins 75 - 150,000 Hz. Obviously there is more than the speed of sound in a calculation.

Typical frequencies associated with underwater acoustics are between 10 Hz and 1 MHz. Sound wave propagating underwater consists of alternating compressions and rarefactions of the water, not just compression.

Damage to the inner ear of marine life is not from "continuous noise levels as high as 250 dB", it is from exposure period. There is a significant body of research showing that whales avoid underwater sounds starting at 110-120 dB re 1 µ Pa.

As directly quoted from Marsha L. Green, Ph.D. at Ocean Mammal Institute:

(Several studies (Malme et al., 1983, 1984, 1986, 1988) show that grey whales begin to avoid sounds at exposure levels of 110 dB and more than 80% of the whales showed avoidance to sounds of 130 dB. Ninety percent of the whales avoided airgun pulses at 180 dB. If whales show low auditory thresholds for low frequency sounds, then sound levels of 195-210 dB might result in immediate damage to their auditory organs.

Lien et al., (1993) studied reactions of humpback whales in response to explosions and drilling off Newfoundland. Their data revealed only small changes in residency, movements and general behavior. However, two humpback whales trapped in fishing gear after the explosions were found to have severely damaged ear structures similar to blast injury in humans. Lien et al. noted that the whales showed no dramatic behavioral reaction to these harmful sounds and cautioned that whales' visible short-term reactions to loud sounds may not be a valid measure of the degree of impact of the sound on them.

Sound also can have a deleterious biological effect by initiating the growth of stabilized micro bubbles that are known to exist in mammalian tissue. Gas bubbles larger than a few tens of microns can block capillaries which can lead to pathological conditions. Crum and Mao (1996) calculated the growth rates of bubbles exposed to low frequency acoustic fields. Their results indicate that for sound pressure levels in excess of 210 dB (re 1m Pa) significant bubble growth can be expected to occur, and divers and marine mammals exposed to these conditions could be at risk.

Loud underwater sounds also, of course, affect fish and other marine life. Studies show harmful effects of even moderate noise on hearing in fish and the viability of fish eggs exposed to noisy environments was significantly reduced (Myrberg, 1990). On March 10, 1998 the "Seattle Times" reported that hundreds of dead fish appeared in Lake Washington after 240 dB airgun blasts were used to test for earthquake faults. Seismometers dozens of miles away picked up the air gun pulses and nearby residents felt their beds shaking.)

You are right in stating that there is "a critical problem that needs public attention". In reaction of your response I must say that I try to communicate my articles in a way that is not to technical so they are not to boring. The research for the article was done over an extended period of time (10+ years) and not just by me but by someone very resourceful in the sonar field.

Warm Regards

mstocker from on July 26, 2011:

Thanks for writing a very informative article. More needs to be known about this crucial issue. Just a few things off the top though:

The expression of relative noise levels is called "decibels" not "decimals." The abbreviation is "dB."

The noise levels from human generated sources has increased 10-fold in the last 60 years from shipping alone, this does not account for seismic airgun surveys (for fossil fuel) or underwater communication systems.

Some of these noises can have source levels of up to 240 dB but there are no continuous noise levels as high as 250 dB.

We avoid using in-air analogies for in-water sound levels because they just work differently - for example sound couples better in water than in air because water is not compressible.

Sound also travels about 5 times faster in water than in air (not 12). Due to these differing characteristics, marine animals (including fish and invertebrates) use sound in many ways with perceptual systems that are different than those of terrestrial animals.

While there are quite a number of inaccuracies throughout your hub blog, I don't want this response to be a "line-by-line" critique of your piece, as the upshot of the issue is that there is a critical problem that needs public attention - and I am grateful for your wading into this topic.

We at are working to increase public and policymaker literacy on ocean noise pollution by conducting research and doing educational outreach. Please feel free to contact us, and thanks for your efforts!

mecheshier (author) on July 14, 2011:

Thank you wilrhoades

wilrhoades on July 14, 2011:

Definitely awesome hubpage. Thanks for sharing!

mecheshier (author) on March 08, 2011:

Thank you so much for your wonderful feedback stacebird. I am happy that this article is reaching a few people. It is so important that people are educated on these kind of issues, our environment depends on us and changing so many things.

Stacey M Hollis from Washington DC on March 08, 2011:

This is a really well done article! It's so great to see people putting such important issues out on the table. Just that you are informing people about this that had no idea beforehand is such a movement toward increasing awareness and making a change...way to go!

mecheshier (author) on March 06, 2011:

Hi toknowinfo

Thank you for the wonderful response. It does sadden me that so many creatures in the ocean are dying mostly because of humans. It is great to know that I am reaching some people. Every little bit to help save the whale and many other creatures is good.

toknowinfo on March 06, 2011:

Great hub. You really taught me so much, I didn't know. It is so sad to think about these magnificent creatures beaching themselves because of human's interference. Rated up and useful.

mecheshier (author) on February 25, 2011:

Thank you ImChemist

ImChemist on February 25, 2011:

Wow, this very informative hub , i rated it useful.

mecheshier (author) on February 13, 2011:

Thank you daravuthz, I appreciate the feedback

daravuthz from Cambodia on February 13, 2011:

Interesting hub. Well Done :)

mecheshier (author) on February 13, 2011:

Thank you hariss. Sad to say, everytime I update this article there are several more stats of whale beachings I could add.

mecheshier (author) on February 08, 2011:

Hi Genna East. It must have been quite interesting and educational to have a father who was a marine biologist, especially being passionate about marine life. Yes, there are many ways that our ocean life is being threatened as well as creatures and plants on land.

Thank you for the great response.

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on February 08, 2011:

Wonderful hub! My father was a marine biologist, and he was often upset at what man is doing to threaten marine more ways than one. Vote up and awesome.

mecheshier (author) on February 06, 2011:

Thank you tykk6una. Your feedback is well appreciated.

tykk6una on February 06, 2011:

WoW. Amazing information. Good job.

mecheshier (author) on February 04, 2011:

Yes indeen Lilly... You have that right. :-)

Lori J Latimer from Central Oregon on February 04, 2011:

mecheshier, that is our best hope.

mecheshier (author) on February 04, 2011:

Hi Lilly Grillzit. Thank you for the wonderful feedback. Yes, the news was disheartening to say the least. There is so much that needs to change in our world. I suppose all we can do is pray and take one day at a time.

mecheshier (author) on February 04, 2011:

Hi TrudyVan. Thank you. Yes, I am a big fan of whales and dolphins myself. It was so hard to write this article without coming to tears.Hopefully with educating people and spreading the word I can help save a few.

Lori J Latimer from Central Oregon on February 04, 2011:

This Hub is award winning. Thank you for telling people the history of noise pollution and its affects on marine life. It was a sore disappointment this summer when the NOAA signed a MOU with the Department of Defense/Navy, exempting them from any regulation or liability for the death of marine life. They said they would "try" and keep an eye out for expectant whales and their young while performing much needed explosions in the ocean for the much needed training. You know, the War we are fighting to kill our planet.

TrudyVan Curre from South Africa on February 03, 2011:

Hello there TrudyVan here. Totally Totally awesome hubpage. I am a great fan of dolfins and whales and it distroys a person to see how they are suffering with our changing weather patterns and the threat, we humans are to their survival. Exceptional Hub and thank you for sharing.

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