Ship Noise Disrupts Humpback Whale Feeding

Posted: Aug 11 2016, 6:20am CDT | by , Updated: Aug 12 2016, 10:15pm CDT , in Latest Science News


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Ship Noise Disrupt Humpback Whales Feeding
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  • Research shows Acoustic Pollution interferes with Feeding Behavior of Humpback Whales

Research has shown that acoustic pollution probably interferes with the feeding behavior of humpback whales.

A novel study looked into the lives of humpback whales in the New England region. It found that man-made noise pollution disturbed the feeding behavior of these whales.

Most freighters and cargo ships traversing through the area send out low frequency noises that cause major damage to the whales’ normal feeding patterns. An acoustic tag was employed by the experts. It had fitted inside it several microphones and sensors.

These thus came in handy in the observation of the feeding behavior of 10 whales in the Gulf of Maine. The study was extant between 2006 and 2009.

The gentle giants that were the whales descended into the ocean slowly when the ships were around. Thus they didn’t have much in the way of a window of opportunity to forage for food.

According to IBT, the researchers have described it as follows: Supposing you are in attendance at an important event and waiting for dinner.

Now think what would happen if someone were to blow a tuba right next to your ear. Your appetite would vanish right there and then. You would probably get up and leave the scene.

This is the exact scenario that occurs with these whales. The presence of ships and freighters reduces the descent of the whales by 14.5%. Also it reduces the ascent of the whales through the waters by 12.8%.

They were also 29% less likely to do sideroll movements. These aided them in feeding on sand lace fish found above the sea bed. Thus the results are conclusive and catastrophic to say the least.

Humpback whales in the regions with maximum ship and freighter traffic changed their feeding habits. These whales had been thought to adapt very quickly to changed circumstances. So this data was a surprise for scientists.

If this behavioral pattern continues in humpback whales, it could spell trouble for the fitness of their populations. The significance of sound in the lives of whales and dolphins has always been monumental.

What to us humans seems to be a minor disturbance is a big deal for these marine life forms. The noise created by man tends to have an aggravating influence on marine life.

These benign beings of the sea have had to put up with man-made noise pollution for decades and they are probably in a state of chagrin due to this interference.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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