Wildlife and sea life lack silence — more than we think.

How bad is it?

Last month, I visited my brother and sister-in-law in Portland, Oregon.

We went on day trips to Mount Hood National Forest, Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area and Ecola State Park.

But it was only when we went up to the Pittock Mansion in the city, that I saw a sign asking people to keep quiet not to disturb the wildlife.

After discussing the efforts regarding preservation in the Oregon National Parks, I got curious and dug a bit deeper into noise pollution and lack of silence in wildlife.

I knew a tiny bit about noise pollution in the sea affecting whales but not much more.

View from The Pittock Mansion, Portland, Oregon.

Researcher Clinton Francis, from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, found out that ‘63% of the protected areas were twice as loud as they should be.’ The noise pollution affects the way animals feed themselves, pollinate the areas, communicate with each other, but it also increases their stress levels and modifies their sense of smell.

Kris Kaiser, a scientist from the University of California, Los Angeles says that ‘noise is the number-one cause of amphibian declines.’

Ok, so now it’s getting serious. Lack of silence is a cause for wildlife species extinction.

‘Noise is the number-one cause of amphibian declines.’

Listening to the sea.

Sea life is highly affected by ‘air gun shots’ that are looking for resources on the sea bed. It creates seismic sounds masking animal communication and therefore threatening their survival. In an article published by Yale University, Christopher Clark, a marine bioacoustic scientist stated: ‘Imagine that every 10 seconds there is an explosion that is rattling grandma’s china out of the cupboard, and it is falling on the floor.’ This is what he calls, ‘acoustical bleaching’ and disrupt animal networks and sense of direction. The explosions can go on for months and can be as frequent as every 10 seconds.

With the renowned David Attenborough Blue Planet documentaries, many more are now aware of the plastic pollution affecting marine life, but less aware of the noise pollution affecting life underwater.

Actions are being taken such as regulating seismic surveying, technologies is being developed, more research is being funded and the IFAW is urging action.

The famous rocks of Cannon Beach.

Could silence be a right for animals and humans?

The silence that animals need, is essential for them to be able to properly connect, communicate and survive.

As humans, we are not far off these needs either, but it is not a matter of life or death. For sure, the noisier our environment is, the more we shut down and cut off. We use headphones to reduce and choose what we listen to, and we feel lucky to find a flat in a ‘quiet’ area.

Quietness is being seen more and more as a luxury, though some scientists are working to ensure it is a human right. Read more about it here.

Another kind of silence.

Minimising our noise is crucial to protect animal welfare, as one out of four mammals is threatened with extinction.

‘A great silence is spreading over the natural world’ and it is not the kind of silence that brings calm and peace, but a menace to our ecosystem. As noise pollution becomes a threat for species, animals withdraw from territories and silence emerges from these areas.

Delving into this topic, it made me think about how we cohabit with animals, the impact we have on ourselves, the flora and fauna.

And it strengthened my belief that we are all interconnected, impacting the world around us more than we know.


E360 Yale, How ocean noise pollution wreaks havoc on marine life.

Nature, Humain noise in US parks threatens wildlife.

Scientific American, marine life needs protection from noise pollution.

Fast Company, Underwater noise is killing whales, but we can make the oceans quieter.

IFAW, Urges action to reduce ocean noise pollution to protect marine mammals.

Medium, These Scientists Think Peace and Quiet Should Be a Human Right

The Guardian, A great silence is spreading over the natural world.