The world’s marine animals are up against some big challenges, including everything from climate change and ocean acidification to pollution and overfishing. And in the past several decades, conservationists have grown increasingly concerned about another threat, one that’s both pervasive and invisible in the water: the danger of sound.
Scientists and activists alike have pointed to a growing body of research suggesting that many marine animals rely on sound for communication, navigation and awareness of their surroundings — and that the noises generated by human activities, such as shipping, industrial work and military exercises, may be more disruptive to their natural habitats than we ever thought.
Now, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is helping to address these concerns with a new “strategy roadmap” — the first of its kind — for researching and managing ocean noise and its impact on marine life. The agency released the strategy in draft form last week and will leave it open for public comments through July.