The Impact of Underwater Noise


It Can Get Quite Noisy Underwater

As suppliers of provisions, equipment, and parts to vessels bound for Cape Town and other South African ports, Link Ship Chandlers take a keen interest in the impact that the shipping trade has on the natural world. As such, we were heartened to learn that the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) have been hard at work to provide guidelines for the reduction of underwater noise, which has been shown to have a significant impact on the wellbeing of countless marine life species.

How Does Underwater Noise Impact Marine Life?

Underwater noise interferes with the ability of marine animals to transmit and receive acoustic information, which impacts on their ability to communicate, avoid danger, find prey, rest, mate and reproduce, as well as navigate their territories. In some areas, vessel noise has reduced the area in which some whales can communicate by as much as 90%.

What Are The Sources of The Noise?

The ocean is naturally quite noisy (there is plenty going on!), but increased commercial vessel traffic has contributed substantially to underwater noise over the past 100 years. In the North Pacific Ocean, for instance, underwater noise has been doubling in intensity every decade for the past 60 years. Most underwater noise from large vessels is caused by propeller cavitation, but the engine and onboard machinery, drag from poor hull maintenance, and bow/stern thrusters also play a role.

What Can Be Done To Lessen The Noise?

In 2014, the IMO recognised that underwater noise associated with shipping is something that can be mitigated, which means that options to reduce ship noise under water already exist. Here’s what freighting companies can do to lessen their noise output:

  • Reduce speed: When vessels operate below cavitation inception speed and avoid rapid acceleration, noise is dramatically decreased.
  • Maintain: Clean the hulls and propellers.
  • Optimise: Insulate the ship engine and use resilient mountings for onboard machinery.
  • Design Mindfully: When refitting or doing new vessel construction, incorporate noise-minimising design features.
  • Reroute: Modify existing routes to avoid whales in the immediate vicinity, as well as known sensitive marine areas.

At the moment the guidelines pertaining to the reduction of underwater noise are not mandatory, but as research in this regard continues, the IMO believes that it will soon become enforceable by law. Read more about the ongoing studies in this regard here. The Link Ship Chandlers team is always on the lookout for fresh news and information on freighting challenges around the world. Keep an eye on the blog in coming weeks and months for more shipping-related news and expert insight into running a smooth logistics operation from start to finish.

Recent Posts for Advice from Ship Chandlers:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *