The Fruits of Civilization (69-1) Undersea Noise

 Undersea Noise

Natural underwater sound is used by many animals to find suitable habitat, and traffic noise is one of the most widespread pollutants. ~ English zoologist Sophie Nedelec

Sound travels better underwater than in the air. The quality of the acoustic environment is important to aquatic life. Fish use sound cues to navigate, and to woo mates. Noise from boats can lead fry astray, and so lessen their chances for survival.

All sorts of sea life are harmed by acoustic pollution. Aquatic lives are recklessly lost or ruined by noisy men.

 Navy Sonar

The US Navy does not care about the damage it does to life in the oceans. For decades, the Navy has heedlessly deafened dolphins and whales by blasting its sonar at frequencies known to inflict pain.

If you deafen a marine mammal for even a short period time, you are affecting its ability to survive. ~ American environmental scientist Michael Jasny

Cetaceans may go mad trying to get away the terrible noise. Many have beached themselves to end the agony.

The U.S. Navy could use a number of proven methods to avoid harming whales when testing mid-frequency sonar. Protecting whales and preserving national security are not mutually exclusive. ~ American environmental scientist Fred O’Regan

The Navy acknowledges that it has killed tens of thousands of marine mammals with its sonar. The US Supreme Court found that quite alright, ruling that the Navy could do as it pleased.

The most serious possible injury would be harm to an unknown number of marine mammals. The overall public interest tips strongly in favor of the Navy. ~ US Supreme Court in Winter v. Natural Resources Defense Council (2008)


The American Navy is not alone in killing sea life with noise. Commercial surveyors – looking for oil, gas, or mineral reserves – use underwater air guns that deafen and kill all manner of marine creature.

Whether over land or in the seas, the cumulative effect of noise is to unbalance the ecosystem. The roar of modern humanity is a raspberry of disdain to life.

noise, n. The chief product and authenticating sign of civilization. ~ American writer Ambrose Bierce in Devil’s Dictionary (1911)