back to article Noisy whales made FAR MORE oceanic racket than humans do

Interesting news today on the whale/ocean-noise beat, as boffins have calculated that back when the oceans were full of whales they were hugely noisier than they are today. Rising levels of human-caused noise in the oceans, which have long been theorised to be a source of distress for cetaceans, are very quiet by comparison to …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    2 Predictions

    "Investigating these differences and their impact on marine life is the topic of intense research.”

    1. They will find that the impact is adverse and we must stop making noise in the oceans

    2. The noise will be made worse by climate change

    1. badmonkey

      Re: 2 Predictions

      Don't be so cynical. Whales use long distance sonic communications. Cocking them up is not fair to them. The theory is that at least some "adverse impact" has been done to whale populations on account of the screw supplanting sailing ships.

      As any boater or diver will attest, screws are extremely noisy under water and the sound carries a long distance detectable even with human ears.

      And if we screw up too much, we'll have to use a Klingon ship to go back in time to save the humpback in order to appease the pissed off alien Probe that comes to have a chat with our underestimated large-brained underwater cousins.

  2. foo_bar_baz

    Noise shmoize

    I'd be more concerned about overfishing and non-noise pollution.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Strange linkage in the article

    Sound pressure/energy (dB) ≠ noise ≠ perceived noise

    Lower sound pressures with certain patterns and frequencies may cause more impact to the listener than a higher sound pressure.

    So continuing with the rock concert analogy used in the article.

    I can drive a vehicle with Ash at rock concert volumes whilst James Blunt at a relatively low acoustic volume would seriously impair my ability to drive.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Do whales fart?

    1. Euripides Pants

      Re: whales, farts

      and if they do, what happens when you light one?

  5. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Does the IWC know about this?

    "In one example the Soviets initially reported taking approximately 2,710 humpback whales from the late 1950s to the mid-1960s. The newer data reveal the actual number was closer to 48,000."

    All the arguments about the "sustainability" of "scientific" whaling might be affected if it turns out that the natural population is about ten times larger than previously suspected. That would immediately imply that the current population has been denuded to a far greater degree than we've been assuming.

  6. ravenviz Silver badge

    Bowls of petunias are nearing extinction as well. But they didn't ever make any noise so no-one has noticed.

    1. Synonymous Howard

      Oh no, not again.

  7. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    Of course the whales were making a racket back then!

    So would I if there were strange beings with harpoons chasing me

    Mine is the one with "Moby Dick" in the pocket

  9. plrndl

    Noise Levels

    When there were more whales, they were probably communicating less noisily, since they were closer to each other. I suspect whales are smarter than rock guitarists, and realise intuitively that trying to make "everything louder than everything else" is a pointless waste of energy. These days they're probably shouting as loud as possible in the hope of proving that they are not alone.

  10. Anonymous Coward


    Suprisingly enough, no.

    > 1. They will find that the impact is adverse and we must stop making noise in the oceans

    We know this already, and we should be quieter. OTOH, with ships slowing down because of oil costs, its likely to be quieter. Also, better propeller designs to save fuel will cause less cavitation and noise.

    I have a nit, though: the whales _could_ have been this noisy, but they only "talk" loud enough to be heard. If they didn't need to shout over the engines, then they needn't have been so noisy?

  11. Mike Brown

    i wonder if they have noticed?

    Ive lways wondered if the whales are inteligent enough to realise that we have killed hundreds of thousands of them? I wonder if they are lonely, and wondering where all thier mates went to?

    That didnt sound so stupid in my head....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: i wonder if they have noticed?

      They noticed. And the whale-pocalypse will be upon us any day now.

  12. Esskay

    In other news

    A stereo system plays louder than a jackhammer; Reg Hack says "quieter is better... right?"

  13. FlyingPhil

    Long distance whale phone calls, and are there a lot of giant squid down there now?

    When I was at university, possibly in acoustics or maybe general physics class, we studying propagation and detection of sound waves underwater. I recall the lecturer proposing that before sailing ships and propeller ships individual whales could communicate with each other across a distance of at least half an ocean, and possibly further. That is pretty astounding!

    Here's a question for deep sea experts. Now that we've killed off a lot of the historic level of population sperm whales (um, have we?), has the population of giant squid exploded now that there are fewer of their natural predator about? Are those giant squid now chomping their way through the eco-system of the deeps?

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