Human-generated noise noted as key factor endangering whales off East Coast

Noise from ships, vessels and seismic exploration for oil and gas is impeding their survival

Scientists who evaluate the health of whales have added three of the aquatic mammals to the list of threatened species in Canada’s waters due in part to human-created noise. Sowerby’s Beaked whales are seen in an undated handout photo in a marine protected zone off the Nova Scotia coast. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Dalhousie University, Whitehead Lab)

Canadian scientists say human-made sounds in the ocean are a key factor contributing to the threatened status of three types of whales off the east coast.

The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada released its findings today on the sei whale, fin whale and Sowerby’s beaked whale following a gathering of 43 scientists in St. John’s, N.L., over the weekend.

READ MORE: Vancouver Aquarium, Ontario’s Marineland shipping beluga whales out of country

Researchers who study marine mammal populations say that the continuing low numbers of the sei whale in the aftermath of decades of whaling led them to ask for an endangered designation.

They also found that the fin whales and the Sowerby’s beaked whales should continue to be designated as species “of special concern.”

Hal Whitehead, the co-chair of the marine mammals sub-committee, says the whales’ assessments are linked to fishing gear entanglements and the whales being struck by the increasing number of large ships in the Atlantic Ocean.

The Dalhousie University scientist says that in addition, the growing levels of noise from ships, navy vessels and ongoing seismic exploration for oil and gas is impeding the whales communication and survival.

He says the Sowerby’s beaked whale, which is slower and smaller than the fin and sei, is believed to be particularly susceptible to noise pollution.

The committee’s news release says that much like bats, the Sowerby’s beaked whale uses sound to navigate and to hunt, and the human-generated noise impairs the whale’s ability to find its way.

Whitehead says the hope is that the federal government will take steps to protect habitat for the whales by adding to the size and number of marine protected areas.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

How to judge sand sculptures like a pro at the 2019 Parksville Beach Festival

World-class arbiter gives insight on how to choose a winner

Editorial: Whatever happened to the summer of love?

Baby boomers must look back at the promise of summers past and wonder

Victoria: where the streets have four names

Find out why so many capital region streets change names as the roadways twist and turn

A look back at hand logging on Cortes Island

David Ellingsen explores his family’s logging roots with the help of his camera

Vancouver Island writer goes with the flow in River Tales

Crofton author documents life on the banks of the Cowichan River

Rich the Vegan scoots across Canada for the animals

Rich Adams is riding his push scooter across Canada to bring awareness to the dog meat trade in Asia

Alberta judge denies B.C.’s bid to block ‘Turn Off the Taps’ bill

He said the proper venue for the disagreement is Federal Court

Canadian high school science courses behind on climate change, says UBC study

Researchers found performance on key areas varies by province and territory

Six inducted into BC Hockey Hall of Fame

The 26th ceremony in Penticton welcomed powerful figures both from on and off the ice

RCMP investigate two shootings in the Lower Mainland

Incidents happened in Surrey, with a victim being treated at Langley Memorial Hospital

CRA program to help poor file taxes yields noticeable bump in people helped

Extra money allows volunteer-driven clinics to operate year-round

Recall: Certain Pacific oysters may pose threat of paralytic shellfish poisoning

Consumers urged to either return affected packages or throw them out

How a Kamloops-born man helped put us on the moon

Jim Chamberlin did troubleshooting for the Apollo program, which led to its success

Most Read