Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Lull in ship noise after Sept. 11 attacks eased stress on right whales

Date:
February 8, 2012
Source:
Duke University
Summary:
Exposure to low-frequency ship noise may be associated with chronic stress in whales, according to a new study. The study, conducted in Canada's Bay of Fundy, has implications for all baleen whales in areas with heavy ship traffic, and for the recovery of the endangered North Atlantic right whale population.

Right whale. Exposure to low-frequency ship noise may be associated with chronic stress in whales.
Credit: JOETEX1 / Fotolia

A new study, just published in the peer-reviewed Proceedings of the Royal Society B, offer the first evidence that exposure to low-frequency ship noise may be associated with chronic stress in whales.

The study, conducted in Canada's Bay of Fundy, has implications for all baleen whales in areas with heavy ship traffic, and for the recovery of the endangered North Atlantic right whale population.

By analyzing underwater noise levels during a period of reduced ship traffic in the bay following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and the comparing those data with levels of stress-related hormone metabolites in the fecal samples of right whales before and after the attacks, the researchers were able to show a strong correlation.

"Essentially, the animals' stress levels dropped when the underwater ship noises did," says Douglas P. Nowacek, Repass-Rodgers University Associate Professor of Marine Conservation Technology and Electrical & Computer Engineering at Duke University.

"There was a six-decibel decrease in underwater noise in the bay following 9/11, with an especially significant reduction in the low-frequency ranges below 150 hertz. This correlated to reduced baseline levels of stress-related hormone metabolites in samples collected from whales later that fall," he explains. "In subsequent years, ship traffic -- and noise -- were higher, along with the whale's stress-hormone levels."

Over the past 50 years, scientists have become increasingly concerned about the effects growing underwater noise pollution from human activities is having on whales and other marine animals that rely on sound to communicate, locate prey and navigate, Nowacek explains.

Particularly concerning, he says, are the sounds made by large ships, whose propellers and engines generate low-frequency noise that overlaps the frequency band used by baleen whales for communication. These low frequencies travel very well through the ocean.

Past responses of whales to this increased noise have included habitat displacement, behavioral changes, and alterations in the intensity, frequency and intervals of their calls. But until this study, there was little evidence about whether exposure to the noise also resulted in physiological responses that could be harmful to the whales.

Nowacek, who holds joint appointments at Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment and Pratt School of Engineering, is one of eight authors of the new study. Rosalind M. Rolland of the New England Aquarium is lead author. Other authors are Susan E. Parks of Pennsylvania State University; Kathleen E. Hunt and Scott D. Krauss of the New England Aquarium; Manuel Castellote of the NOAA's Atmospheric Administration's Alaska Fisheries Science Center; Peter J. Corkeron of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology; and Samuel K. Wasser of the University of Washington.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Duke University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. R. M. Rolland, S. E. Parks, K. E. Hunt, M. Castellote, P. J. Corkeron, D. P. Nowacek, S. K. Wasser, S. D. Kraus. Evidence that ship noise increases stress in right whales. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2012; DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2011.2429

Cite This Page:

Duke University. "Lull in ship noise after Sept. 11 attacks eased stress on right whales." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 February 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120208132711.htm>.
Duke University. (2012, February 8). Lull in ship noise after Sept. 11 attacks eased stress on right whales. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120208132711.htm
Duke University. "Lull in ship noise after Sept. 11 attacks eased stress on right whales." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120208132711.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) Two white lion cubs, an extremely rare subspecies of the African lion, were recently born at Belgrade Zoo. They are being bottle fed by zoo keepers after they were rejected by their mother after birth. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) He is leading a one man agricultural revolution in Mali - Oumar Diatabe uses traditional farming methods to get the most out of his land and is teaching others across the country how to do the same. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Buzz60 (Oct. 20, 2014) An entomologist stumbled upon a South American Goliath Birdeater. With a name like that, you know it's a terrifying creepy crawler. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Adorable Video of Baby Rhino and Lamb Friend Playing

Adorable Video of Baby Rhino and Lamb Friend Playing

Buzz60 (Oct. 20, 2014) Gertjie the Rhino and Lammie the Lamb are teaching the world about animal conservation and friendship. TC Newman (@PurpleTCNewman) has the adorable video! Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins