Tag Archive: sing

Beluga whales sing better in a quiet ocean

Photo credit: Diliff licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

I first saw beluga whales in the aquarium in Vancouver, Canada, and then last year in the wild in Canadian arctic waters. They are marvelous creatures, with a bulbous head that helps them vocalize and hear the vocalizations of other belugas.

A National Geographic television show discusses research showing that belugas sing better in quieter oceans.

For belugas, noise from ship motors is like ambient noise in a too-noisy restaurant. It makes conversation difficult.

Quiet is better for both animals and people.

Dr. Daniel Fink is a leading noise activist based in the Los Angeles area. He is the founding chair of The Quiet Coalition, an organization of science, health, and legal professionals concerned about the impacts of noise on health, environment, learning, productivity, and quality of life in America. Dr Fink also is the interim chair of Quiet Communities’ Health Advisory Council, and he served on the board of the American Tinnitus Association from 2015-2018.

Study: Female Fish Attracted To Males Who ‘Sing’

but noise pollution kills the mood, writes Calum Mckinney, Study Finds, and it’s disrupting fish reproduction all across the world. Mckinney introduces us to Eva-Lotta Blom, a doctoral student at University of Gothenburg, who says “that a large part of the problem is that beneath the waves, sound travels much farther and almost five times faster than in the air.” One common source of noise is from ships, as the sound travels far from the source, creating a very noisy situation that would not be tolerated on land. But industrial noise from pile driving and “seismic airguns may be a bigger factor in ocean noise pollution.

And, no surprise, there are absolutely no noise regulations governing our oceans.

So, how does noise interfere with fish reproduction? Blom studied the effect of noise on gobies, and she found that “singing is critical to the male’s reproductive success.” She performed an experiment in which one tank of gobies was nice and quiet while the other was exposed to simulated boat noise. Blom found the results to be remarkable:

In the noisy environment, the fish didn’t mate much, and in the few instances they did, it took them longer. What’s more, half of the eggs in the noisy aquariums died without hatching and those that did hatch took longer to do so.

Even if you don’t care about the mating success of gobies, think about the implications of ocean noise pollution on fish stocks. With oceans already becoming more acidic and warmer, noise could be the final straw.