/ ©: forwhales.org

Protecting Quiet Oceans


Canada's Pacific North Coast

Canada’s Northeast Pacific contains some of BC’s quietest ocean coastline and some of the world’s richest cold-water seas. Known as the Great Bear Sea, these waters are home to magnificent marine mammals – some of whose populations are at risk, while others are recovering at a remarkable rate.

Resident orca whales live here year-round in tightly knit family pods. The second-largest animal on the planet – the elusive fin whale - visits to feed in these nutrient rich seas. Male humpback whales sing their mysterious songs in the deep fjords of the Great Bear Sea. Pacific white-sided dolphins, Dall’s porpoises, sea lions, seals and a wealth of other marine species are also part of this thriving and complex ocean ecosystem.

Dive deeper

Click here to learn more about why sound is important to marine animals

Follow this link to learn more about the science of noise pollution and WWF's work on ocean noise.

Cetaceans in the Great Bear Sea



Why is sound important to marine life?

It’s easy to imagine that below the surface, the ocean is a deep and silent space. But life underwater is naturally filled with sound. Grunts, coughs and clicks of fish, cries of orca and songs of humpbacks all form a part of the natural soundscape of British Columbia’s coastal waters. Sound, unlike light, travels remarkably well underwater. That’s why fish, whales, dolphins and other marine species have evolved to largely use sound instead of sight to navigate, avoid predators, forage for food and find mates.

Noise Pollution: A disturbing trend

Around the world, however, ocean listeners are discovering that our seas are becoming noisier. Noise pollution from some of the following types of human activities is affecting marine species.
  • Shipping
  • Boat traffic
  • Navy sonar
  • Port construction
  • Oil and gas exploration
  • Underwater seismic testing for mining
As development pressures on our coasts increase, we need to find ways to better understand and manage the impacts of noise pollution on marine habitat and species.

Why Ocean Noise Matters



Why is noise pollution a problem?

Noise pollution, like other pollution, may negatively affect marine species, potentially causing changes in their behaviour that could lead to long term effects on their populations.
  • Sudden and very loud noise can startle nearby marine animals and cause hearing damage.
  • Continuous noise can mask the sounds that animals use to communicate with one another and disrupt activities such as feeding and socializing.

WWF Senior Science Officer Hussein Alidina helping set up a solar panel for a wind and solar ... / ©: Jo Anne Walton / WWF-Canada
WWF Senior Science Officer Hussein Alidina helping set up a solar panel for a wind and solar powered hydrophone station
© Jo Anne Walton / WWF-Canada

Solar Panels

WWF Senior Science Officer Hussein Alidina helping set up a solar panel for a wind and solar powered hydrophone station

What is WWF doing?

1. Science

WWF is working with leading scientists to:
  • Map and better understand where noise pollution is a problem and how it may be impacting critical habitats for orca, humpback and fin whales.
  • Improve monitoring of noise on the Pacific coast.

2. Management

WWF is working with government and industry to work toward solutions such as:
  • Reducing noise levels in critical whale habitats.
  • Exploring opportunities to establish quiet areas for marine species.
  • Embracing greener technology, such as quieter ships.
  • Improving management activities in our oceans to reduce their accumulated noise footprint.

3. Policy

  • WWF is advocating for national regulation of the amount of noise, like other pollution, that can be released into the ocean.
Shipping Noise and Important Whale Habitats on the BC Coast / ©: WWF-Canada
Shipping Noise and Important Whale Habitats on the BC Coast
© WWF-Canada