In cities, human lockdowns during the coronavirus pandemic have offered some respite to the natural world, with clear skies and the return of wildlife to waterways. Now evidence of a drop in underwater noise pollution has led experts to predict the crisis may also be good news for whales and other sea mammals. Researchers examining real-time underwater sound signals from seabed observatories run by Ocean Networks Canada near the port of Vancouver found a significant drop in low-frequency sound associated with ships. David Barclay, assistant professor of oceanography at Dalhousie University, the lead author of a paper reviewing the phenomena, examined sound power – a way of measuring “loudness” – in the 100 Hz range from two sites, one inland and one farther offshore. He found a significant drop in noise from both. “Generally, we know underwater noise at this frequency has effects on marine mammals,” Barclay said. “There has been a consistent drop in noise since 1 January, which has amounted to a change of four or five decibels in the period up to 1 April,” he said. Economic data from the port showed a drop of around 20% in exports and imports over the same period, he […]

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