Junior paper


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Junior paper

  1. 1. Flores 1 There is no way of knowing what may be happening in the ocean. On the surfaceit looks calm, but underneath the surface sharks and killer whales are swimming. This iswhy people like oceanography; they want to explore the unseen deep ocean. They wantto know what kinds of animals live in the ocean including animals that people have neverseen before. Oceanographers specialize in working on equipment used to study theocean. Oceanography contains a wide range of jobs including engineers, marinebiologists and zoologists. These scientists study ocean life like the whales and dolphins.Their research is important because the oceans and the sea life that lives there face manyissues. Today there is a big issue for oceanographers and marine biologists which is theendangerment of whales because the whales are being killed by noise pollution in theocean, by the fishing industry, by the effect of chemical pollution and climate change. Whales are endangered for many reasons. One of these is noise pollution. Noisepollution is in the ocean and comes from shipping, seismic exploration, and sonar. Thisnoise confuses the whales’ sense of direction and causes them to beach themselves whichcan kill them because “whales rely on hearing” (National). Oceanographers are involvedin solutions to this problem. They pushed the U.S Congress to include whales in theEndangered Species Act, which has laws to protect whales from practices. Also, they areasking the U.S. Navy and the shipping industry to change the way they use sonar. Theyprovide hotlines and website so that people can report beached whales. Another reason why whales are in danger is because of fisheries and ship strikesand fishing gear. That is a “great threat to whales with about 300,000 whales worldwidekilled in commercial fishing net every year” (national). “To reduce the number of human
  2. 2. induced injuries to the right whales, the Endangered Species Act requires that an early warningsystem be developed which will alert marine fishermen when whales get trapped in their nets”(Fegley). This law also says that fishermen in Maine and other states with a lot of whales haveto fix their fishing gear to help reduce right whale entanglements” (Fegley). Whales also get killed in collisions with ships. It is the main cause of death to whales(Fegley). “The right whale is particularly susceptible to ship strikes because of its habit of restingnear the surface” (Fegley). Ship captains have to be really careful about how they move theirships when they are near to these animals, because one of the major threats to the populationsin such urbanized waters is ship strike. These are solution to help save right whales. There is asystem to detect right whales in Massachusetts. Listening buoy in the shipping lanes detectwhales and then call the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The lab verifies the detection and warnsships in the area. “The network uses 13 auto-detection buoys”. The buoys have a five milelistening radius. “If ship collisions can be prevented, we are going to save the remainingwhales.” There may be only about 345 right whales left. For example A whale is swimming nearthe shipping lanes, occasionally making "up-calls" to stay in touch with other whales in the area.Captains of large, fast-moving ships often cant see them in time to avoid collisions. New auto-detection buoys installed in some shipping lanes monitor the water for right whale calls 24hours per day. Calls from whales within 5 nautical miles are loud enough to be recorded on thebuoy’s hydrophone, mounted 60 to 120 feet beneath the surface. All day every day, a computeron each auto-detection buoy analyzes sounds as they arrive. Whales have deep voices, so thesoftware focuses on sounds between 50 and 350 Hertz--roughly spanning the notes on the left-hand half of a piano keyboard. The first step is to separate discrete sounds from background
  3. 3. Flores 3noise, a computing task that’s similar to recognizing an object in a cluttered photograph. Beforescientists at the Bioacoustics Research Program invented auto-detection buoys; they hadanother tool for studying whale sounds: the marine autonomous recording unit, or “pop-up,”developed in the late 1990s. Whereas auto-detection buoys quickly analyze sounds looking fora single type of call, pop-ups listen for months at a time, recording everything they hear for amore thorough analysis. The duplicate recordings are each marked with a precise time-stamp,allowing researchers to calculate where whales were when they called. The information helpsthem learn about how right whales behave--something we still know little about. The precisionafforded by the arrays and their continuous coverage also help in studies of the noise levels inMassachusetts Bay, including noise associated with construction and operation of the gasterminal.(right whales).“So by putting these receivers out and listening to the songs, knowingwhen theyre here, we can actually do things to redirect ship traffic, so to reduce the mortality ofthese great whales. Thats right, because they communicate with each other through sound, thesound of the ships, even things like dredging. Were talking about putting offshore wind powerright here in New York waters. All these things could have potential problems in terms ofallowing for these whales to communicate, which is important for their social structure (scienceFriday). Finally, chemical pollution is another reason why species of whales are in danger. Forexample, petroleum and the toxic dispersants used to break up oil spills are harmful to whales.After the BP oil spill, “massive amounts of dispersant were distributed into the Gulf of Mexico”to break up the millions of gallons of oil spilled from the underwater well. There was a lot ofhope that the dispersants would assist in the removal of the toxic crude, but during testing, the
  4. 4. dispersants only removed a little bit of oil. The oil will hurt the whales because most of the timethey eat things that are infected with the oil. And sometimes the oil goes through their blowholewhen they surface or the fumes have a big effect on them. The dispersant will also have negativeeffects on the whales. The baby whales may not develop right because the krill they eat is toxic.“After the oil spill from the Exxon Valdez disaster, some populations of killer whales werereduced by as much as 40 percent, according to a 2008 study led by marine biologist CraigMatkin of the north gulf oceanic society in Alaska.” “Even now, that killer whale population hasyet to recover and will likely go extinct in a few decades,” Matkin said. “We lost so manyfemales out of that group that they couldnt catch up again. They still havent caught up"(Ker).Oceanographer have put “electronic ear” in the Gulf of Mexico to keep trackOf sperm whales,giving scientist ideas about their movements, population numbers and how they are doing in thegulf since the oil spill (Jeanna). Some good news is that it looks like the sperm whales populationleft the oily part of the Gulf of Mexico and may not get hurt by the oil. Sperm whales left aftergulf oil spill. “Sperm whales showed good sense after the deep water horizon oil spill, acousticsurveys show” (Hanlo). Oceanographer and marine biologist are studying the endangerment of whales becausethe whales are being killed by noise pollution in the ocean, by the fishing industry, and by theeffects of chemical pollution. These experts are helping to save whales. Saving whales is goodfor the human population too. For example, humans eat some of the fishes that whales eat too,and if the fish is contaminated by oil and chemicals, then people are going to get sick just like thewhales. So what is good for whales is good for people!
  5. 5. Flores 5