Letters to the Editor

Hal J. Daniel III: Noise can affect marine animals

Regarding the Sept. 19 news article “ Seismic surveys could soon disturb dolphins”: Readers should be aware that the quote by the oil industry association that seismic surveys “should not cause any deaths or injuries to the hearing of marine mammals” is a misleading oversimplification.

It is true that there is limited scientific data reporting underwater noise causing anatomic/physiologic pathologies in marine life but there is plenty of scientific evidence on the effects of noise on ocean-dwelling animals, including marine mammals. More specifically, animal behaviorists and cognitive ethologists have demonstrated how ambient ocean noise can affect development, feeding, mating, migration and even beaching and suicide in aquatic species. Just because scientists have not shown how ambient noise causes structural/functional damage to the auditory and vestibular systemsdoesn’t mean that it doesn’t occur.

The effects of ambient noise on wildlife, including marine mammals, is indeed significant to their behavior patterns and without doubt eventually be shown to cause anatomic/physiologic damage.

Hal J. Daniel III

Professor emeritus of biology, East Carolina University