Ship Noise Stressing Out Whales

Right whales may be getting sick and not reproducing as a result
By Dustin Lushing,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 10, 2012 3:14 PM CST
In this 2007 photo released by the New England Aquarium, a right whale dives near a ship in Canada’s Bay of Fundy.   (AP Photo/New England Aquarium)
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(Newser) – A group of whales in Canada is being stressed out by noise emanating from ship traffic, a new study suggests, and the stress may be harming the whales' immune system and making it harder for them to reproduce. Scientists measured the stress hormones in the poop of right whales in the Bay of Fundy and discovered that whales are less stressed when fewer ships sail the area, reports LiveScience.

"What this study has shown is that they are having a measurable physiological stress response to the noise in their environment," says one researcher. The whales in question communicate across long distances using low-frequency sounds, similar in frequency to the tones produced by nearby ships.

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