Often when we think of noise pollution in the ocean, we think of whales and sonar, but other sources of anthropogenic noise impact lots of other animals too. Seals have acute above and under-water hearing, using sound for communication, hunting, and navigation, especially in areas where the ocean is dark or murky.
Underwater drilling noise can affect seals by masking important auditory cues in the environment or can impact their hearing sensitivity short term or long term. This is a complex problem for scientists to tackle since different species are sensitive to different sound bandwidths and frequencies.
Sketch and fact by Karli Chudeau
[Edited by Adrian Perez]
Sills, J. M., Southall, B. L., & Reichmuth, C. (2014). Amphibious hearing in spotted seals (Phoca largha): underwater audiograms, aerial audiograms and critical ratio measurements. Journal of Experimental Biology, 217(5), 726-734.
Southall, B. L., Finneran, J. J., Reichmuth, C., Nachtigall, P. E., Ketten, D. R., Bowles, A. E., … & Tyack, P. L. (2019). Marine mammal noise exposure criteria: updated scientific recommendations for residual hearing effects. Aquatic Mammals, 45(2).