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

VIDEO: Surrey care workers hold demonstration of solidarity with Langley Lodge

‘We thought we would come out and show them some support and cheer them on’

UPDATE: One person dead, two in critical condition after Highway 1 collision in Langley

A man and woman were taken to hospital in critical condition

20 dead in COVID-19 outbreak at Langley Lodge

There were two new cases detected, according to the Lodge’s update

Local investors win lawsuit against Murrayville House builder

Two companies have been ordered to pay $275,000 in damages

$2,000 reward for info on suburban trap after raccoon dies

Animal rights groups say there was no need for the trap

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

Thanks for helping the Aldergrove Star to continue its mission to provide trusted local news

Kelowna man charged with harming a hamster

The 20-year-old Kelowna man faces several animal cruelty charges

High tech fish transport system set up to ‘whoosh’ salmon past Big Bar landslide

Fish will spend roughly 20 seconds inside the system, moving at roughly 20 metres per second

Trudeau to seek 10 days of paid sick leave for Canadian workers, says talks are ongoing

Paid sick leave is key to keeping COVID-19 spread under control, prime minister says

Snowbirds jets will not be leaving Kamloops, just yet

The Snowbirds have been in Kamloops since May 17 when a plane crashed killing Capt. Jennifer Casey

COVID-19 checkpoints ‘up to them,’ Bonnie Henry says of remote B.C. villages

Support local tourism economy, but only if you’re invited in

Vancouver Island hasn’t seen a new homegrown case of COVID-19 in two weeks

Island’s low and steady transmission rate chalked up to several factors

Eight people arrested in Victoria homeless camp after enforcement order issued

Those living in tents were given until May 20 to move indoors

Most Read