The coronavirus pandemic has brought environmental benefits including reduced pollution and increased wildlife sightings. Scientists have begun studying the effects on animals, including whales and marine mammals that are now exposed to less noise pollution.
David Barclay, an ocean acoustics researcher at Dalhousie University, is studying whales off the Canadian coast of Vancouver Island to see how they’re responding to less shipping traffic. Barclay and his team have found that two sites showed a decrease in noise up to five decibels between January and March. The drop corresponded with a 20% drop in imports and exports during the same period.
Michelle Fournet, a marine acoustician at Cornell University, who studies whales in Alaska reported similar reductions in noise. She told the Guardian, “What we know about whales in southeast Alaska is that when it gets noisy they call less, and when boats go by they call less. I expect what we might see is an opportunity for whales to have more conversation and to have more complex conversation.” The crisis has stopped cruise ship traffic as well. Alaska is usually overrun with cruises by mid-April. But not this year.
Hear examples of whale sounds, below:
Scientists around the world that are unable to carry out work are eager to see the data in these types of tests. It’s a rare chance to see the world in an unusual state. And to see how animals respond.
Scientists believe that the spread of COVID-19, or coronavirus, started at an exotic animal market in Wuhan, China. You can help stop the incidence of viruses like these by signing this petition to ban the wildlife trade.
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