Scientists investigate Falmouth seas noise pollution

A long-term plan for managing noise in shallow parts of the ocean such as Falmouth Bay is needed to protect the environment, scientists from the Universities of Exeter and Bath have said.

Manmade noise in the marine environment can increase stress in animals, alter their behaviour, and displace them from habitats important to their daily lives, according to the University of Exeter.

The engineers and biologists from the Universities of Exeter and Bath, have been investigating how best to monitor the increasing human influence in the seas.

They used underwater sound recorders in Falmouth Bay for 14 months at a marine renewable energy test site FaBTest and have found managing noise in shallow coastal environments will likely require a very different strategy to other, deeper ocean environments, University of Exeter informed.

Lead author of the research, Joanne Garrett, from the University of Exeter, said: “We found considerable variation in noise throughout the year. As well as anthropogenic noise sources such as shipping, we found that natural environmental conditions, such as waves and tide, also affect the sound levels.

“Both of these factors highlight the need for tailored and long-term monitoring to develop a robust understanding of our effects on the marine environment.”

Philippe Blondel, from the University of Bath’s Centre for Space, Atmosphere and Oceanic Science, said: “This work provides much-needed data to inform the debate about the impacts of human activities on marine environments, by providing measurements over several years in a sensitive and important area of the British Isles.

“This data will be extremely useful to both European regulators, who lead the way in terms of environmental monitoring, and standardisation bodies like British Standards and the International Standards Organization.”

The research was funded by the European Social Fund, PRIMaRE, MERiFIC, and Innovate UK.