17.08.2011 - UNESCOPRESS

The International Quiet Ocean Experiment

© Nigel Pilgrim - Scientists suspect motorized craft are contributing to a noisier ocean.

Human activities on the high seas have grown significantly in recent decades, apparently contributing to increasing ocean noise levels. Scientists suspect that the situation may be affecting the health and behavior of marine life.

In light of growing concern, fuelled by the increasing industrialization of the oceans, leading marine scientists and representatives from the private sector and military establishments will meet at UNESCO from 30 August to 1 September to plan the International Quiet Ocean Experiment (IQOE). This decade-long project aims to fill the considerable knowledge gaps in this area, so that management of ocean noise can be more informed and effective.

Many marine species rely mainly on sound as a source of environmental information, in much the same way as human beings rely on their eyesight. Although very little research exists to prove any links, there is a growing suspicion that increasing noise levels, and some sounds in particular, are altering the behavior of marine animals and perhaps even reducing their capacity to perform normal life functions such as such as finding food, seeking out mates or avoiding predators. Evidence suggests, for example, that several whale species have raised the volume of the squeaks, clicks and moans by which they communicate with each other.

The International Quiet Ocean Experiment is organized by the Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research (SCOR) and the Partnership for Observation of the Global Oceans (POGO), of which UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) is a member.


                    Journalists can attend the opening session of the meeting.

                      For accreditation, or interview requests please contact:
                 Sue Williams, Tel: +33 1 4568 1706; s.williams(at)unesco.org

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