Shortly before the lockdown we had planned a screening of Sonic Sea in our monthly Cinemar event followed by an open debate with experts from Tursiops about the impacts of underwater noise on marine wildlife and how to address it. The event was cancelled for obvious reasons and the seas turned into the most silent they’ve ever been in decades. Noise pollution disappears the moment you “turn it off”, unlike other types of pollution it does not linger or takes time to disappear. The absence of noise has been one of the most noticeable changes we’ve experienced during these past two months and this probably why bottlenose dolphins have been spotted several ports and bays of the Balearic Islands and there have been record sightings of fin whales migrating along the cetacean corridor that extends between the Balearics and the peninsula. As we gradually come back to normality and boats come back to the sea this might be the time to ask ourselves how can we keep our seas – if not silent – at least significantly less noisy?
The EU Marine Strategy requires member states to achieve or maintain good environmental status (GES) in their marine waters by 2020. Managing underwater noise and putting measures in place to reduce noise pollution is critical to achieve this goal. Measures to reduce underwater noise such as limits on speed are already being discussed as part of management plans for marine sensitive areas in the Balearic Sea; the need to reduce C emissions hopefully will accelerate action on this front.