To this mix is now being added the Internet of Underwater Things, which is beginning to flood the oceans with sound in order to connect them to the Internet. And this sound will be pulse-modulated with the same harmful frequencies as radio waves in order to carry the same data. And to communicate over large distances, some of the underwater acoustic modems that are being marketed are capable of producing sound as loud as 202 decibels. That is equivalent to 139 decibels in air. It is as loud as a jet engine at a distance of 100 feet, and is above the threshold for pain in humans. These modems blast modulated sound at frequencies ranging from 7 kHz to 170 kHz, encompassing almost the entire hearing range of dolphins, which use sound for hunting and navigating.

The effects of sonar on whales and dolphins have been widely publicized. But the effects of noise pollution on fish and other denizens of the deep are just as devastating, as Lindy Weilgart details in her 36-page report for OceanCare. She reviews 115 research studies on the effects of noise on 66 species of fish and 36 species of invertebrates.

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“Most fish and invertebrates use sound for vital life functions,” she writes. “Noise impacts on development include body malformations, higher egg or immature mortality, developmental delays, delays in metamorphosing and settling, and slower growth rates… Anatomical impacts from noise involve massive internal injuries, cellular damage to statocysts and neurons, causing disorientation and even death, and hearing loss… Behaviorally, animals showed alarm responses, increased aggression, hiding, and flight reactions; and decreased anti-predator defense, nest digging, nest care, courtship calls, spawning, egg clutches, and feeding… Some commercial catches dropped by up to 80% due to noise, with larger fish leaving the area.”

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If the new assault continues, it will provide the last nails in the coffins of our oceans, and — since the oceans are the source of all life — of our planet. Already in 1970, just 17 years after he published The Silent World, Jacques Cousteau, returning from 31⁄2 years of exploration in which he traveled 155,000 miles, told the world: “The oceans are dying. The pollution is general.”

“People don’t realize that all pollution goes to the seas,” said Cousteau. “The earth is less polluted. It is washed by the rain which carries everything into the oceans where life has diminished by 40 per cent in 20 years. Fish disappear. Flora too.” And what was not being poisoned was being mined for food as though ocean life was an inexhaustible resource. “The oceans are being scraped,” he said. “Eggs and larvae are disappearing. In the past, the sea renewed itself. It was a complete cycle. But this balance was upset with the appearance of industrial civilization. Shrimps are being chased from their holes by electric shocks. Lobsters are being sought in impossible places. Coral itself is disappearing. Even in the Indian Ocean, which is little traveled.”

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