• 07.05.16

These Animations Tell The Story Of The Noise Pollution That’s Killing Marine Life

Listen to the sounds of the ocean as the whales and dolphins hear it. Yeah, it’s not so soothing.

These Animations Tell The Story Of The Noise Pollution That’s Killing Marine Life


Every time a modern container ship churns through the ocean, it puts 190 decibels of sound energy in the water. That’s about as loud as standing in the middle of an exploding bomb–and it’s a major problem for marine animals, which rely on sound, not sight, to survive. At any given time, there are 60,000 commercial ships in the ocean.

These short animated clips from the documentary Sonic Sea tell the story.

First, sound can travel incredibly long distances underwater:

A sound in the Indian Ocean can even make it to Washington State:

Without ships around, there’s a symphony of animal sound underwater. Here, ocean researcher Christopher Clark talks about the first time he put headphones on to listen under ice in the Arctic.

For whales or dolphins or other marine animals, sound is critical to survival, but human noise–from ships, and from other industry like oil drilling–is making it almost impossible to hear.


Every 10 years, noise pollution doubles.

Read here to learn more about the problem of ocean noise pollution–and possible solutions.

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About the author

Adele Peters is a staff writer at Fast Company who focuses on solutions to some of the world's largest problems, from climate change to homelessness. Previously, she worked with GOOD, BioLite, and the Sustainable Products and Solutions program at UC Berkeley.