Save Whales from Noise Pollution

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Janice Chu started this petition to U.S. Governors

Throughout history, whales have relied on sound to communicate with each other as well as navigating and monitoring their surroundings. However, recent data shows that underwater noises have doubled over the past 60 years and have made a big impact on whale populations worldwide. Shipping, seismic exploration, military sonar, and offshore drilling are common problems that create extreme underwater noises which interfere with the whales' communication. In addition, they also cause emotional and physical harm to the whales. Fortunately, this problem isn’t irreparable. Whales can be saved, but that only by informing the United States’s government to stop producing noise pollution in the ocean and instead should promote quieter vessels that won’t interfere with the whales' clicks which is necessary for their survival.

Because of the noise pollution produced from the propellers of ships and seismic booms, whales who rely on sound to navigate and communicate with each other struggle for survival in a vast ocean full of predators and pollution. Kenneth C. Balcomb III, executive director and Senior Scientist at the Center for Whale Research, claims that whales are highly conscious and capable of self awareness. They are intelligent mammals who are no different from humans. Honestly, whales' suffering from man-made noises is no different from humans who also can't stand to hear terrible sounds. Sting, formally known as Gordon Sumner, is a human rights and environmentalist activist as well as a musician. He expresses his experience growing up in the shipbuilding industry in the northern parts of England. Sting describes how awful and frightening the noises were during his time growing up in the shipbuilding industry. So imagine how whales have to experience hearing these loud noises while trying to communicate with each other. Sylvia Earle, oceanographer, author, and National Geographic Explorer in Residence, reveals that whales rely on their hearing for their survival. Whales rely on their clicks, whistles, and songs to help navigate and communicate with each other. However, noise pollution causes whales to get lost while struggling to survive, because ship propellers and seismic booms makes it hard for whales to navigate and communicate with each other. Without any means of communication, they end up separating from each other as a result which cause several problems for them such as being easy prey for predators without a herd to protect them or being stranded on a beach after losing their way. 

In addition, the sounds produced from shipping boats and oil drilling fills the ocean with so much noise to the point where the noise not only interferes with the whales' communication and navigation but causes them internal health problems. In order to investigate this problem, Kenneth C. Balcomb III took the body of dead whales to his lab to find out the reason why whales have been surfacing near land when they normally live deep in the ocean. A study from Harvard Medical School reveals hemorrhaging around the brain and traces of blood around the whales' ears. The scan led Balcomb to conclude the man-made noises led to the deaths of these whales. Tragically, whales are forced to endure the terrible noises underwater produced from the capitalistic greed of the shipping and oil drilling industry. Molly Patterson, research assistant at OrcaLab, while listening to a cruise ship produce underwater noise, describes how much she couldn't stand it for more than 10 minutes while whales have no control over the man-made noises and are forced to listen to them inevitably leading them to their deaths. 

Although whales continue to suffer from man-made noises, there are methods to save them such as having the U.S. government acknowledge that underwater noise is causing harm to whales and thereby helping to promote research to bring underwater noise pollution to safe levels. Noise pollution levels can be addressed by using a scale sound map in order to better understand the nature of problem and its influence on sea mammals as a way to build a case for reduction. The map is used to show underwater noise levels to better visualize the effect of noise pollution on whales in order to address treaties, laws, and regulations to protect these creatures. If addressed, then there will be methods to help create quiet vessels that will minimize noise levels such as redesigned propellers as the standard propeller produces millions of collapsing voids and bubbles when it cuts through sea water. To help reduce the cavitation, engineers will shape propellers in specific ways that help lessen noise production. The United States should also take precautions by creating restrictions on noise pollution against companies that produce a lot of noise pollution like shipping companies or oil drilling companies until noise levels drop to safe levels for whales. 

Overall, whales are self aware creatures who are capable of feeling pain no different from humans. The pain whales are suffering from caused by the man-made noises of ship propellers and seismic booms is heart wrenching. These noises lead whales to struggle for survival due to interference with their communication and navigation. At the same time, this also causes internal health problem in the whales. And unlike humans, they can't escape from these dreadful sounds as shipping and oil drilling industries continue to produce underwater noises. Essentially, the solution is to stop the underwater noises from harming the whales by creating scale sound maps in order to help visualize the problem with noise pollution and produce quiet vessels that won’t interfere with the whales’ clicks.

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