Oceancare ocean noise whale

Seas At Risk’s Swiss member organisation OceanCare have been running their Silent Oceans for 14 years, aimed at curbing underwater noise. Over this period they have attempted to mobilise public support, with petitions and protests to protect, for example, the marine areas around Santorin, the Canary Islands, Croatia, and Ibiza.

Now they have managed to develop a first overview of noise sources in the Mediterranean Sea. A team of researchers around Silvia Frey (director science and education at OceanCare) compiled and analysed a dataset covering 1446 harbours, 228 oil drilling platforms, 830 seismic exploration activities, 7 million ship positions, 52 wind farm projects, as well as publicly available information regarding military activities in order to create a basin-wide map:

noise hotspots fig 10

The map clearly shows that even protected areas and areas that are of particular importance to noise-susceptible marine mammals are burdened with a high density of noise sources. These habitats include the Pelagos Marine Mammal Sanctuary, the Strait of Sicily, and the Hellenic Trench. The scientists also found that at least 1,500 commercial vessels are present in the area at any given time, day and night, with their roaring propellers. This is an alarming number, considering that for marine mammals, these waters are their home.

This report is an extremely valuable tool that allows us to unmistakably demonstrate to the competent bodies, why we are so intensely working to reduce underwater noise in the Mediterranean. A proper scientific basis is indispensable for finding solutions in a constructive way.

Read the full report here

This hugely complicated piece of work is a significant achievement that will serve as an excellent tool for the future discussions and negotiations, and OceanCare is to be commended for its completion.

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