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Michel André

Ocean noise rings alarm bells

Published in 2002clockTime to read: 50s
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The rising tumult in the oceans caused by human activity is causing devastating damage to sea life, according to evidence gathered by bioacoustician scientist Michel André.

locationCanary Islands, Mediterranean sea

Collisions between ships and whales – fatal to the giant mammals – off the Canary Islands prompted concern by Michel André. Aware that whales’ hearing may be sensitive to man-made noise, making them vulnerable to collisions with ships, he pioneered the first whale anti-collision system (WACS), using a prototype passive acoustic buoy funded by his Rolex Award.

Today, we still understand little about how man-made sound can interfere with life in the oceans, but there is growing public and scientific concern about this recent source of pollution ─ and our current data suggests that concern is justified.

His project has evolved over the years to encompass research into how man-made noise, including the rising thunder of ships, drills, dredges, seismic surveys and military manoeuvres, is adversely affecting sea animals, not only those that depend on sound to live. Through his Listen to the Deep-Ocean Environment (LIDO) project, underwater observation sites have been dispersed across the world’s oceans and linked into a network that provides the first truly global picture of ocean noise and its effects. André, a Professor of Bioacoustics at the Technical University of Catalonia and Director of the Laboratory of Applied Bioacoustics, has also been participating in several EU-funded projects on noise abatement and is working on a pink dolphin conservation project with the late Rolex Laureate José Márcio Ayres’s Mamirauá Institute for Sustainable Development in Brazil.

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