Human-generated noise noted as key factor endangering whales off East Coast

Noise from ships, vessels and seismic exploration for oil and gas is impeding their survival

Scientists who evaluate the health of whales have added three of the aquatic mammals to the list of threatened species in Canada’s waters due in part to human-created noise. Sowerby’s Beaked whales are seen in an undated handout photo in a marine protected zone off the Nova Scotia coast. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Dalhousie University, Whitehead Lab)

Canadian scientists say human-made sounds in the ocean are a key factor contributing to the threatened status of three types of whales off the east coast.

The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada released its findings today on the sei whale, fin whale and Sowerby’s beaked whale following a gathering of 43 scientists in St. John’s, N.L., over the weekend.

READ MORE: Vancouver Aquarium, Ontario’s Marineland shipping beluga whales out of country

Researchers who study marine mammal populations say that the continuing low numbers of the sei whale in the aftermath of decades of whaling led them to ask for an endangered designation.

They also found that the fin whales and the Sowerby’s beaked whales should continue to be designated as species “of special concern.”

Hal Whitehead, the co-chair of the marine mammals sub-committee, says the whales’ assessments are linked to fishing gear entanglements and the whales being struck by the increasing number of large ships in the Atlantic Ocean.

The Dalhousie University scientist says that in addition, the growing levels of noise from ships, navy vessels and ongoing seismic exploration for oil and gas is impeding the whales communication and survival.

He says the Sowerby’s beaked whale, which is slower and smaller than the fin and sei, is believed to be particularly susceptible to noise pollution.

The committee’s news release says that much like bats, the Sowerby’s beaked whale uses sound to navigate and to hunt, and the human-generated noise impairs the whale’s ability to find its way.

Whitehead says the hope is that the federal government will take steps to protect habitat for the whales by adding to the size and number of marine protected areas.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Trees Cannabis director fined $1.5 million for selling marijuana

Fine follows provincial crackdown on popular dispensary

Victims tell of abuse at hands of Victoria substitute teacher

Harry Charles Sadd pleaded guilty to eight charges that took place between 1970 to 1982

2020 Budget: ICBC ‘dumpster fire’ to turn into $86M surplus, NDP say

ICBC operating with $91-million deficit for 2019-2020 fiscal year

Resident mistakes screaming teens’ late-night plunge for an emergency

Big week for Oak Bay Police who respond to rampant theft in Oak Bay, host Polar Plunge

Victoria budtenders become first private cannabis workers to unionize in Canada

Two of seven Clarity Cannabis storefronts vote to join UFCW 1518 union

VIDEO: 7 things you need to know about the 2020 B.C. budget

Surplus of $227 million with big spending on infrastructure and capital projects

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 18

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Do you support the proposed changes for ICBC?

Tuesday’s provincial budget predicted a shift from shortfall to surplus in wake… Continue reading

World Cup skier from Okanagan dies suddenly at 19

Kuroda, who made his World Cup debut earlier this year, passed away suddenly Monday night.

Coastal GasLink pipeline investor committed to closing deal despite protests

Developer TC Energy Corp. — formerly TransCanada Corp. — is to remain the operator of the $6.6-billion pipeline

New highway proposed between Alberta and B.C.

The route would connect Red Deer to Kamloops

What’s in a name? The story of Revelstoke’s Mt. Begbie

It’s likely the iconic peak had several Indigenous peoples’ names before settlers arrived

Budget 2020: B.C. Liberals blast ‘Netflix tax,’ lack of economic plan

ICBC rates still go up, except in election year, Shirley Bond says

Teen snowmobiler from Kelowna found after air force’s overnight search

The teen had been missing since just after 6 p.m. on Monday

Most Read