As this is posted, I am currently in one of the most important presentations of my short life. I am defending my master’s thesis in front of a committee, showing them that I have spent the last year of my life wisely, researching something that I care deeply about. I will most likely write a blog post about this amazing/scary/wonderful/terrifying experience at a later point, but for now, here’s a call to action about underwater noise pollution.
Jacques Cousteau dedicated his whole life to bringing the silent world closer to people who might have never felt the joy of seeing the ocean. Because of research and human’s urge to explore, we know that the ocean is everything but silent. If anything, it’s the opposite. In ideal water conditions (and with the proper equipment) you can hear hauntingly beautiful sounds thousands of miles away. It’s the most natural kind of music, it gets me every time. Now, imagine you’re a whale and sound is everything you rely on, especially in the depths of darkness. If you don’t have your hearing, you have nothing. You won’t be able to find food or other whales, identify threats or make sense of the world. If you can’t hear in the silent world, it’s all just dark.
Because we cannot wait an extra three days for our new iPhones and the newest fashion wear, the shipping industry had to find ways to increase speed and make their tankers bigger and that activity causes sound that harasses and actively disturbs the behavior of the ocean’s inhabitants. At this point sound becomes noise, kind of like your fridge humming along, always making that weird zzzzzzzzzh sound. It might not bother you, or it might bother you immensely. The difference though is, that you can leave your kitchen (or whatever place you have your fridge at) and find a different place, where the sound doesn’t bother you. But we have seen, what happens if whales throw themselves on beaches, trying to escape unbearable sounds. They cannot escape.
So I’ve tried to find out what can be done, what should be done and what is done to prevent noise pollution in the oceans. I’ve talked to some really smart people with some very interesting views about the issue, and realized that LOTS can be done. I don’t mean this in an idealistic kind of way, I mean of course, I’d be nice if we all did our part and would eventually stop world hunger, solve climate change and minimize plastic pollution, but I know that in order for these things to happen, we all need to stand together and act together for each other. But when it comes to noise pollution, we don’t necessarily need to act for each other, but we need to act for the creatures of the world, who do not have a voice in what we do in our every day lives.
Let me ask you this, when you go online and order something from Amazon, you know exactly where your product is at all times and who ships it, right? I mean, if you order locally. But what about between the manufacturer and Amazon? Do you know which company ships your products from somewhere in China to a storage unit in the middle of nowhere? Do you know, how your groceries actually get into your fridge? The very same fridge that makes that annoying noise? No? Well, I don’t either. And that’s the problem. I don’t know anything about the shipping industry, other than, that it exists and that it magically ships my products rather efficiently from one place to another, but that’s also the problem. Don’t we deserve to know where our products come from? How they get shipped and by whom? I mean, why else would we bother labeling all our fruits with stickers, saying that the strawberries are from Argentina and the mangoes from Pakistan? Because we want to know, so why don’t we know more about the invisible industry, that makes our lives so convenient without us even knowing?
So, that’s what you can do. Ask your local politicians, your most favorite clothing and gadget provider about the industry, that we use so often and yet, know so little about. Demand to know, because you deserve to know. And once you know, you can make an educated decision whether you want to support the shipping industry or not. You can find out, what they are doing or not doing to protect and prevent whale strike, noise pollution, air pollution and all kinds of other things… It’s not a huge undertaking, right? I mean, it’s an email, a phone call, maybe even just a whatsapp message, but it could go a long way.
If we don’t start asking these questions now, then the oceans will eventually become just that: the silent world, deprived of all the beautiful creatures that make the deep blue the most magical place.