How do humans impact the ocean? - Lesson Four

Lesson 4 - How does noise pollution impact marine wildlife?
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Social StudiesHistory+35th,6th Grade

This lesson contains 12 slides, with text slides and 1 video.

time-iconLesson duration is: 45 min


Lesson Four – How does noise pollution impact marine wildlife? This lesson discusses the different sources of noise pollution and how it impacts marine wildlife. Learning activities:  Research species that rely on sonar to navigate. Discuss how noise pollution would impact each stage of their lifecycle and ability to survive.  Discuss how can reduce the impact of noise pollution on the ocean and marine wildlife.


Time: 45 minutes

© Sea Shepherd 2022

Items in this lesson

Lesson 4 - How does noise pollution impact marine wildlife?

Slide 1 - Slide

This lesson is provided by Sea Shepherd.  Sea Shepherd was founded in 1977 and is a marine conservation organisation working to protect the oceans and marine wildlife.  Sea Shepherd works globally on a range of issues impacting the oceans, running numerous direct action campaigns each year. 
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Watch  the video

Slide 2 - Slide

During the lesson we will use these icons to identify the learning actions.
Introduction to IUU fishing and the impact of overfishing.
Noise pollution

Slide 3 - Slide

The next issue we will look at is noise.
Ask students: “What is the difference between sound travelling through air and under water?”
Sound is created by vibration. Sound travels faster through denser materials, so it depends on the ocean temperature and pressure (depth).  Generally, it is said that under water sound travels 4 times faster than in air, which means it also goes further.  This is why whale sounds can be heard miles away.
Ask students: “How do you think noise pollution occurs – how do we create noise in the ocean?”

Introduction to IUU fishing and the impact of overfishing.
Tourist and leisure vessels

Slide 4 - Slide

The motors in leisure boats and jet skis create noise.  The noise and vibrations in the water will travel and impact the surrounding areas.
Discuss the areas these might operate in and what marine wildlife might be found in these areas.

Introduction to IUU fishing and the impact of overfishing.
Ships sonar

Slide 5 - Slide

Navy vessels and other large ships use a sonar system.
Ask students if they know what is meant by ‘sonar’?
Sonar is a system for the detection of objects under water by emitting sound pulses and detecting or measuring their echo after being reflected.

Similar to how whales and dolphins use echolocation. These sounds will be heard by marine wildlife.
Ask students “What do you think the impacts could be on marine wildlife of sonar from navy ships? Which species would be impacted the most?”

They can be used by navy ships to detect what is in the area, by scientists to map areas of the ocean finding shipwrecks, and by fishing vessels to find fish.

Introduction to IUU fishing and the impact of overfishing.
Shipping lanes

Slide 6 - Slide

Another source of noise is the movement of ships in shipping lanes.  Imagine the noise constantly coming from busy shipping lanes.
Imagine living in a constantly noisy environment and how stressful that might be.
Imagine the shipping lane is along the migration routes of whales.  What do you think the implications will be for the whales?
The constant noise will make it difficult for them to communicate with each other.  

Introduction to IUU fishing and the impact of overfishing.
Ports and harbours

Slide 7 - Slide

Shipping lanes also means ports, docks, cranes, engines, and related pollution from ships like oils and fuels.  New ports could also mean dredging and construction work.  
Built in natural harbor areas – what species do you think you would normally find in these areas? What harm could these activities cause?

Introduction to IUU fishing and the impact of overfishing.
Seismic blasting - oil and gas exploration

Slide 8 - Slide

The oil and gas industries conduct surveys of the ocean floor to look for deposits under the seabed.  They use a method called seismic blasting, which creates a huge amount of noise constantly 24 hours a day for weeks.  The noise is created by high-powered airguns that blast every 10 seconds. They are measuring the echoes from the seabed, creating a map of what is beneath.
The noise can reach 250 decibels.  The loudest whale sound is believed to have been recorded at 180 decibels.   These airguns could deafen marine species that are too close when they are set off.

Introduction to IUU fishing and the impact of overfishing.
Coastal development - lights and noise

Slide 9 - Slide

Just like new ports, coastal development means construction noise that could travel far into surrounding areas.  Lights from these new developments can also be an issue.   
One example is sea turtle nesting areas.  Hatchlings use the reflection of the moon off the ocean to find their way, but what happens if there are bright lights from high rise developments at the beach.

Slide 10 - Video

One area where coastal development is impacting nesting sea turtles is in Florida.  This video gives a glimpse at this issue.

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Slide 12 - Slide

Refer Teachers Guide for Learning Activities.