Gabriolans Against Freighter Anchorages Presents The Film Sonic Sea: Sounding the Alarm on Ocean Noise

Natural Resources Defense Council

Media Release

Tuesday, May 15 2018

Beneath the surface of our oceans lies a finely balanced, living world of sound, most of which we never hear topside. But to whales, dolphins and other marine life, sound is survival, the key to how they navigate, find mates, hunt for food, communicate over vast distances and protect themselves against predators in waters dark and deep.

Our oceans, though, have become vast junkyards of industrial noise — often louder than a rock concert — from commercial shipping, military sonar and seismic blasts that test for oil and gas. The seas have become so loud, in places, that these great animals are drowning in noise that threatens their health, their future and their very lives.

On Wednesday, May 16, at the Roxy, GAFA will present a Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) film that documents this shattering underwater peril. Sonic Sea calls on all of us to turn down the volume before it’s too late.

Naval sonar drills leave whales disoriented and impaired. They can go silent and abandon their habitat and some even become stranded and die in a desperate bid to escape torturous noise. Watermen report entire populations of fish vanishing across broad ocean regions after oil and gas seismic blasting.  And in a world where a staggering 60,000 commercial tanker and container ships are plying the seas at any given time, each one as loud as a nearby thunderstorm to area marine life in the area, the onslaught of undersea noise has become relentless, doubling roughly every decade.

For animals that live by what they hear, more and more of our oceans are sounding like the factory floor: too loud for conversation at the center of their life. North Atlantic right whales off the coast of Boston regularly lose up to 80 percent of their communications range, their ability to process sound drowned out by commercial shipping. And it’s getting harder to find sanctuary — anywhere.

By compromising the ability of whales, dolphins and other marine life to feed, reproduce and protect themselves, ocean noise is undermining the natural resiliency species need to cope with these other threats.

The sea is where life on Earth begins. If our oceans die, we won’t survive. And here’s the thing: Ocean noise is a problem we can solve. Like a summer night when the fireworks end, our oceans return to their natural soundscape when we turn down the noise. That’s what NRDC has been working to do for the past two decades, standing at the forefront of the fight against ocean noise worldwide.

The award-winning film is narrated by Oscar-nominated actress Rachel McAdams. It features interviews with the Grammy award-winning musician and environmental activist Sting, as well as the renowned oceanographic explorers and educators Sylvia Earle and Jean-Michel Cousteau. It was produced by NRDC and Imaginary Forces in association with the International Fund for Animal Welfare and Diamond Docs. The film was directed and produced by NRDC’s multimedia and film director, Daniel Hinerfeld, along with Michelle Dougherty, a director with Imaginary Forces.

Wed March 16 7PM at The Roxy. There will be a brief update on GAFA activities and under water acoustics expert Dr. Ross Chapman will answer questions after the film.

Admission is by donation.