A global team of scientists, including six experts from three UK institutions, has documented how ocean soundscapes have changed, explored all impacts of noise on marine animals and ecosystems, and identified ways to restore a more natural soundscape.
The team set out to understand how human-made noise affects wildlife, from invertebrates to whales, and found overwhelming evidence of negative impacts on behaviour, physiology and reproduction – causing death in extreme cases.
Professor Steve Simpson, of the University of Exeter, said: “Many marine habitats are under threat from increased cyclones, ocean warming, overfishing and pollution, devastating the communities of animals that generate natural soundscapes, and robbing future generations of marine animals of the cues they use to find and select suitable places to live.
“The call of home is no longer audible to fish, crabs, clams and corals in many ecosystems.”
The team have called for this issue to be considered a global threat to marine ecosystems, and for policy to be developed to limit its effects. They have identified some relatively easy ways to do this from modifying ship propellers to using bubble curtains when building offshore windfarms. “Policy makes can implement these measures by setting binding targets and providing economic incentives”