Sunday, January 9, 2011

The importance of measuring noise pollution in oceans

Noise pollution, if not controlled, could cause great damage to many species that live in our oceans. Because of this, many environmentalists have welcomed the news that The Applied Bioacoustics Laboratory (LAB) of the Universitat Polit├Ęcnica de Catalunya (UPC) and their development of the first system equipped with hydrophones able to record sounds on the seafloor in real time over the Internet.

The importance of this system is great because it is able to detect the presence of cetaceans (such as whales and dolphins) and it makes it possible to analyze how noise caused by human activity can affect the natural habitat of these animals and the natural balance of oceans.

Scientists have explained that this is the first system of its kind and its main benefit will be in saving considerable analysis time and human resources in the detection and classification of noise because these processes are completely automated, and because of this the technology prevents a continuous flow of acoustic data that hasn't been analyzed from overloading hard drives at research centers.

It has to be said that our oceans and seas were always full of noises. But the latest addition of artificial noise coming from humans poses great threat to marine life, and many scientists will tell you that noise pollution is the biggest environmental threat to marine life (together with ocean acidification).

Sea creatures like dolphins and whales use the sense of hearing for many purposes such as hunting for prey, navigation, migration and distinguishing the members of the same species. Artificial noise can therefore prevent their hearing sense from working properly and lead these species to extinction.

This high-tech system will also enable scientists to study the relationship these animals have with other mammals in their habitat but of course the main purpose of this system is to make it possible to take decisions for mitigating noise when the lives of these mammals are threatened due to artificial noise.

It also has to be said that the new EU directive on the sea has obliges all member states to comply with a set of indicators for measuring marine noise pollution before 2012.

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