Impact of noise pollution on sea mammals

  • M. Doom
  • P. Cornillie
  • I. Gielen
  • J. Haelters


The ancestors of the current whale species (Cetacea) migrated from land to sea millions of years ago. Obviously, this evolutionary movement demanded some radical morphological adjustments. Forelegs changed into flippers, the hind legs became rudimentary, and the nostrils moved dorsally on the skull to function as a blowhole. The sense organs also underwent drastic adaptations. Since visibility is very limited at great depth, whales have to depend on senses other than sight to navigate, forage, hunt, communicate with conspecifics, etc. The production and perception of sound waves became crucial for the survival of these magnificent marine creatures. Some species even developed echolocation as an additional tool based on the physical principles of acoustics to locate obstacles under water. It goes without saying that any disturbance of the acoustic mechanisms may be life-threatening for these animals. Research on the effects of human-caused noise pollution on marine life demands a multidisciplinary approach. An accurate report of these research results to policymakers is necessary in order to protect the most vulnerable cetaceans.

How to Cite:

Doom, M. & Cornillie, P. & Gielen, I. & Haelters, J., (2013) “Impact of noise pollution on sea mammals”, Vlaams Diergeneeskundig Tijdschrift 82(5), 265-272. doi:

Download PDF
View PDF



Published on
30 Oct 2013
Peer Reviewed