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            december 08, 2019

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Reducing ship speeds helps ease stress of noise pollution on marine animals


Researchers say the negative impact of noise from ships on marine animals can be mitigated by reducing vessel speed, according to the Acoustical Society of America.
The western Canadian Arctic's natural underwater soundscape has been shielded from the din of commercial shipping by the sea ice that covers the area, rendering it mostly inaccessible to shipping vessels. But with large amounts of ice shrinking in the Arctic Ocean, a growing number of ships are gaining access to the area.
One concern with vessel transits is how noise pollution can detrimentally affect marine animals - including Arctic cod - given the critical importance of these fish in the Arctic food web, reported Science Daily, Washington DC area.
"Noise from shipping traffic can lead to acoustic masking, reducing the ability of cod and other marine animals to detect and use sound for communication, foraging, avoiding predators, reproduction and navigation," said University of Victoria research fellow Matt Pine.
Mr Pine and his colleagues at the University of Victoria, Wildlife Conservation Society Canada and JASCO Applied Sciences have found that the negative impact of noise from vessels can be mitigated by reducing the ship's speed.
The research team investigated potential relief in acoustic masking by reducing the speed of container and cruise ships by 10 knots, from 25 knots to 15 knots.
The researchers incorporated field data to produce computer simulations in which container and cruise ships passed through the western Canadian Arctic via the Northwest Passage.
"Our modelling study shows that reduction in acoustic masking effects can be substantial," Mr Pine said.

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