Marine life during pandemic

Coronavirus: The Sea and Its Marine Life Are Finally Getting a Rest Because of the Pandemic

/ No Comments / 23rd March 2020

At the start of the year, no one would have ever thought that a pandemic would cause the world to be on a standstill. But now, the COVID-19 pandemic is keeping people inside their homes because it’s the only way they could protect themselves from the deadly virus. On the flip side, the pandemic has given the planet a much-needed breather and its effects on marine life are unexpected and astounding.

Marine life is now experiencing quieter oceans

Although the invention of ships and other marine vessels has been greatly beneficial to humans, the noise they bring to the oceans has been detrimental to marine life.

Research studies revealed that the ambient noise produced by ships and other vessels contribute to an increase in the stress hormone levels of marine creatures, which could affect their ability to reproduce. So this sudden and unprecedented pause in global ocean noise is definitely bringing some benefits to marine life, according to experts.

Cornell marine ecologist Michelle Fournet hopes to put some underwater microphones off the coast of Alaska and Florida to see if the absence of ocean noise has had any impact on the humpback whales and other marine life that she’s been studying for years.

She said: “Just pulling those cruise ships out of the water is going to reduce the amount of global ocean noise almost instantaneously. We’re experiencing an unprecedented pause in ocean noise that probably hasn’t been experienced in decades.”

The last time this happened was during the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks when no ship traffic was allowed in North American waters due to fear of another terrorist attack.

Researchers gathering data and making recordings in Canada’s Bay of Fundy before 9/11 happened noticed that right whales in the area experienced a drop in stress level hormones because of the lesser noise in the ocean.

There are now fishes swimming in the canals of Venice

It’s been long since fishes are seen swimming in the canals of Venice. But now that Italy is on a lockdown after being the worst hit country outside China, the canals have cleared up due to the absence of boats, cruise ships and tourists roaming around Venice’s canals.

Videos showing the now crystal clear waters of the canals in Venice are proof of the positive effects of the lockdown to nature.

This phenomenon has also been felt in other parts of the world including a dolphin swimming in an almost empty port in Sardinia and other parts of Italy, a sight that no one ever thought would see in these once busy locations.

The takeaway

As devastating as the COVID-19 pandemic is to the world, some say that it could be the earth’s way of giving itself a break that it badly needs after years of enduring the effects of industrialization.

It has also been a welcoming break not only for marine life but also for animals on land where they can enjoy a few weeks of normalcy before everything gets back to the fast-paced, industrialized world that it is.

 

Sources:

The Atlantic: The Pandemic Is Turning the Natural World Upside Down

IFLScience: The Unexpected Impact Of A Pandemic On The Environment

UN Environment Programme: COVID-19 and the nature trade-off paradigm

Read more about marine pollution

Read about the effects of plastic waste on sharks and rays

Photo by Jon Eckert on Unsplash