Exploring the harmful effect of man-made noise pollution on the whales and dolphins inhabiting Irish waters in a new radio documentary by producer John Higgins: A Sea of Sound
Over 90% of Ireland’s territory is under the sea and this vast underwater environment is home to 25 different species of whale, dolphin and porpoise, from deep diving beaked whales hunting squid in the spectacular mountains and valleys of the ocean floor off our west coast, and humpback whales feeding and foraging here on their long migratory routes from Africa to Iceland, to resident species such as the bottlenose dolphins living all year round in the Shannon estuary.
With each passing decade however, man-made noise in the ocean from sources such as fishing and shipping has effectively doubled, creating a dense acoustic smog which our marine mammals are forced to navigate through, impacting massively on these highly intelligent animals and their ability to feed, reproduce, migrate and communicate.
What happens when the ocean becomes so full of noise that whales and other cetaceans can no longer hear each other sing? In the midst of a worldwide extinction crisis, the increasing number of dolphins and whales washing up injured or dead on Irish coves and beaches is a major cause for concern.
A Sea of Sound also examines what can and is being done to turn down the volume of man-made noise in the sea and what might be done to try and protect this beautiful acoustic environment and the creatures that live there into the future.
Over the course of the documentary John travels around the Irish coast, on land and on the water, talking to a diverse range of people who care about our marine environment, from scientists, conservationists and volunteers to politicians and fishermen.
A Sea of Sound is an As the Crow Flies production funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland and is produced by John Higgins, edited by Francesca Lalor and mastered by Neil Kavanagh,
Image Credit: Nick Massett