Curtin University physicist Professor Christine Erbe said for six months she measured and modelled underwater sound off the coast of Australia and found that ship noise was contained to the areas the vessels travelled.
By contrast, in the northern hemisphere there is far more commercial shipping, traweling and sub-sea mining and some parts human-made noise is as loud of oceanic sounds.
In the past, Great Australian Bight Alliance revealed noise pollution negatively affects at least 55 marine species, including those that depend on sound for navigation and communication.
“Usually when we become aware of an environmental problem as such, it is too late, but now we have the opportunity to act early and protect healthy environments now,” Prof Erbe said.
Ms Erbe believes that in Australia there is the opportunity to quantify the amount of noise.
“We need to understand the biological significance of noise exposure and disturbance. The pathways in which noise can impact animals,” she said.
The Curtin study noted the northern hemisphere’s oceans experience much more man-made noise pollution, which often dominates the underwater soundscape over large areas and which disturbs the marine, acting as a wake up call for the need to preserve and protect the Australian marine.
Ms Erbe believes that most people are unaware of human-made noise under water and it’s impact on the marine.
“They don’t understand marine animals rely on sound for communication, environmental sensing, navigation, foraging and predator avoidance,” she said.
She said in regards to past environmental management, we have mostly dealt with one operation, one industry proposal at a time, but we need to look at cumulative effects instead.
But researchers say we must be proactive rather than reactive.
While the general public are mostly unaware of human-made noise pollution, awareness is rapidly increasing within offshore industry and government.
Prof Erbe believes future research should look into how to reduce noise output and looking into how different animals use sound.
“Look into engineering or operational solutions to reduce noise output.”
“Prioritising critical species, at-risk species that have specific conservation needs,” she said.