U.S. Quiet Ocean Project
The ocean is alive with activity, where sounds move faster than they do through the air. These include natural noises, like those from oceanic and atmospheric conditions (e.g., breaking waves, rain, and cleaving and shifting ice), marine animals (e.g., sea urchin scraping algae off of rocks, dolphins whistling and echolocating, and snapping shrimp creating bursts of sound while hunting), and marine features (e.g., underwater volcanic eruptions). Humans also generate sound on and under the water through ships, sonar, and other industrial and recreational activities. This anthropogenic sound in the ocean is increasing and will likely continue to do so as use and industrialization of the ocean grow.
Many marine animals rely on their acute hearing to locate food and other animals, so a louder ocean can affect their ability to perform functions necessary to survive. Studies have already shown the impacts of sound on some types of marine life, particularly marine mammals. However, we do not have an adequate understanding of impacts of sound on other types of marine life and ecosystems, the variability of natural and anthropogenic sources of sound across time and space, or the cumulative effects of sound in conjunction with other stressors (warming seas, overfishing, etc.) to fully understand the impacts of ocean sound.
To address this challenge and ultimately add to the growing body of knowledge that will inform science-based decisions on ocean sound, the Consortium for Ocean Leadership is undertaking a one-year U.S. Ocean Sound Scoping Effort to facilitate partnerships across sectors and between researchers and stakeholders to determine the feasibility of a coordinated U.S. research program on ocean sound. This scoping effort is the first step toward addressing these science questions in a coordinated, cross-sector manner and is made possible with the support of the Richard Lounsbery Foundation.
Over the next year, the Consortium for Ocean Leadership will document the full landscape of U.S. ocean sound related programs, task teams, and data sets; foster participation by academic scientists, federal agencies, and industry and conservation stakeholders; and provide a forum for U.S. ocean sound‐related discussions and collaborations. This effort will contribute to the International Quiet Ocean Experiment.
ANNOUNCEMENTS: None at this time.
SELECTED REFERENCE DOCUMENTS:
- Ocean Noise Strategy Roadmap (NOAA, 2016)
- Sonic Sea (NRDC & IFAW, 2016)
- International Quiet Ocean Experiment Science Plan (2015)
- Interagency report on a Marine Mammals and Sound Workshop (2010)
- Effects of Stress on Marine Mammals Exposed to Sound (ONR, 2009)
- Marine Mammals and Noise report (MMC, 2007)
- Ocean Noise and Marine Mammals (NRC, 2003)
- Discovery of Sound in the Sea website