In a new study, researchers found that while dolphins tried in vain to adapt to the modern world by doubling the volume and duration of their underwater whistles, their ability to successfully communicate was nearly halved by industrial noise.
As a result, dolphins are forced to “scream” and use other strategies to compensate for the anthropogenic noise caused by economic and military activities, the study found.
Although marine mammals have developed several ways to deal with noisy environments, they seem far from perfect, according to a paper published in the journal Current Biology.
“We found that the level of success of pairs of dolphins communicating with each other in their joint activities decreased as the level of anthropogenic noise increased, regardless of their attempts to compensate for this by louder and longer whistling and changing their physical behavior to better track each other. — wrote the researcher.
Noise pollution has become a major problem for marine life, especially for animals such as dolphins, which rely on echolocation to locate and track food sources. Scientists have linked increased background ocean noise to beach strands, behavioral changes and decompression sickness in cetaceans.
“If groups of wild animals, for example, can feed less efficiently together, then this negatively affects the health of individuals and, ultimately, the health of the population,” said Stephanie King, one of the co-authors of the study and a research assistant. professor at the University of Bristol.
Co-author Pernille Sorensen explained that “the same reasons why sound is so beneficial to animals also make them more susceptible to interference from environmental noise.”
The researchers say this is the first study “showing how rising levels of anthropogenic noise are negatively impacting coordination between conspecifics performing a joint task” in any non-human species.
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