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Noise pollution: Taking human sounds out of our oceans and restoring balance

In the 5 Podcast, Thomas Loudon investigates issues and solutions that create a more sustainable world one step at the time. 

Just because we don’t hear much when we stick our heads in the water, doesn’t mean that there isn’t sound there. In fact, sound is everywhere in the ocean – and it’s vital to marine life.

It’s how sea creatures navigate, how they communicate, how they find mates and how they get to their next meal. And after millions of years of evolution, it used to be perfect. Then humans came along and added the sound of engines, airguns, sonar and more to the soundscape.

In this episode we speak to a marine biologist Nathalie Houtman, marine ecologist Serena Rivero of The North Sea Foundation and Michel André, the director of the Laboratory of Applied Bioacoustics in Barcelona, about the effects of our noise on life in the ocean – and even life on land. Frans Hendrik Lafeber tells us how the Maritime Research Institute Netherlands (MARIN) is making ships quieter.

But we start with a man who had a close encounter with killer whales, and wonders whether noise played a role.

Find out more

  • Listen to the sounds of the ocean at the Discovery of Sound in the Sea site
  • Take a deep and very visual dive into the topic with the amazing documentary Sonic Sea
  • Check out the work of the Embassy of the North Sea here
  • Listen to the deep in real time here
  • Discover what WWF is doing to protect the oceans here
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