Oceans are believed to be the darkest and most enigmatical natural water masses that shelters millions of living species. Apart from the artificial, man-made sounds created by mammoth-sized tankers, cargo ships or speedboats and motor yacht boats, the oceans encounter a myriad of reverberations of snapping and flapping sounds of aqua life. Dunk your head for once underwater and you might hear a jangle of sounds coming from crashing waves, living aquatic creatures and even rain.
Anthropogenic activities have already taken the plunge on our environment to a great extent, considering the devastating effects of global warming and climate change. Likewise, human activities are greatly affecting the dynamics of ocean soundscapes. Starting from water pollution to ocean acidification, all these are silencing the natural noises of the seas. Let’s throw some light on the story.
What are Ocean Soundscapes
● Firstly, snapping shrimps mostly live along the coastlines and other areas including coral reefs, seagrass beds, kelp forests and mangroves. They make a lively crackling sound which, echoes much like a pistol shot and can be heard even from long distances. Being also known as pistol shrimps, they have a big claw which, forms a cavitation bubble when they are closed with great force. Thereafter, when this bubble implodes, a loud sound is being created.
● Secondly, parrot fish and urchins also make deafening munching sounds when they scuff off algae from the rocks. Many fishes are loud talkers as well and they make different types of sounds including burps, chirps, chirps, whistles and much more for defining their territory during fights and locating mates. These organic sounds, while fusioning with crashing waves, rain or seismic activities are known as the underwater soundscapes.
● Thirdly, the loud sounds and strong odours from the habitats settled in coastal areas are significant cues for marine animals to replenish the adult population and find new homes.
How Oceans are Getting Quiet
Mankind has been dictating the environment since, centuries. We have been altering the carbon and nitrogen cycle since decades due to extensive burning of fossil fuels and extraction of nitrogen for waste disposal and food production consecutively. Resultantly, huge amounts of nitrogen and carbon are dispersed in the ocean, which is contributing to global warming and climate change in the long run.
Around one-third of the total atmospheric concentration of CO2 , being emitted by human beings, mostly get accumulated into the ocean. This, in turn, is leading a steady increase in the level of ocean acidification which is emerging as a threat for animals such as plankton, corals and snails, that produce a shell formed of calcium carbonate. Resultantly, this is affecting the behaviour of many animals negatively, thereby disturbing their brain functioning. The coral reefs, seagrass beds and kelp forests are getting replaced by mat-forming or turf-forming algae, which will accommodate less diversity of species, thereby providing less feeding and shelter opportunities for noisy animals and shrimps.
Degraded habitat will result in lesser noise because of which, the larvae that used to locate their homes by listening to the underwater soundscapes will no more be able to find their homes. Henceforth, it will result in less restoration of fish stocks.
Numerous measures have been taken by now to eliminate waste disposal into the oceans, which thereby, maintaining the balance of aquatic life. Restoration of coastal vegetation, sewage treatment and swamps which, extract nutrients and sediments from stormwater runoff, thereby reducing the use of rivers as the channel for polluted water. Thus, protect the aquatic life from getting immersed into the solitary era of silence by implementing effective restoration practices.