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Wiring, Monitoring, & Protecting the Oceans

Wiring, Monitoring, & Protecting the Oceans

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Friday, May 31, 2019/Categories: natural history, wildlife conservation, marine life, sustainability, environment

                      Ocean Noise Strategy (credit: NOAA)

The oceans need all the help they can get. Whether it is overfishing, bleaching reefs, plastic pollution, acidification, or a myriad of other abuses, the signs are not pointing in a good direction for the Earth's marine environments.

However, positive initiatives are appearing. They include a new effort by National Atmospheric and Oceanic Adminiatration (NOAA) to address sonic pollution that affects marine mammals and fish. Known as the Ocean Noise Strategy, NOAA hopes to reduce the impact of noise generated by ships and Navy submarines on migrating marine mammals and commercial fish populations. Many marine species use sound to navigate, hunt, and reproduce by communicating over long distances. Mechanical noise from ships can confuse the animal's radar-like reception. The Agency is using their initiative to addresse a serious concern about noise and its impact. Over the next 10 years NOAA will refine the strategy as a way to guide ocean science and management actions towards a vision to reduce this human-caused stress.

Another pro-active case, oceanographer John Delaney of the University of Washington has been leading a team to build an underwater network of cameras and sensors to create a global interactive marine laboratory. Their hope is that an explosion of "big data" from the oceans will provide a better understanding to how they function. The network could also form the basis to monitor and control a variety of environmental stresses and illegal activities like overfishing and ocean dumping. Dalaney made a presentation on his group's effort to 'wire an interactive ocean'.

These are only two positive ocean projects. Many more will be needed to reverse the negative trends and to restore health for marine environments everywhere.



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