ELLSWORTH — Jacques Cousteau may have written about “The Silent World” of the oceans, but in truth it is anything but that.
Manmade oceanic noise pollution poses an increasing risk to marine life, and is the subject of the documentary “Sonic Sea,” which is being screened by the Schoodic Institute on Aug. 20 at The Grand in Ellsworth.
“Light does not penetrate this world, so everything that lives in the ocean has learned to survive on sound. They are in a complete acoustic environment,” said Joel Reynolds, western director and senior attorney for the National Resources Defense Council.
Reynolds is a key figure in the film, and will be part of a panel discussion following the showing.
Reynolds first became aware of the issue of oceanic noise pollution in 1994, while litigating a lawsuit against the U.S. Navy and its planned detonations off the coast of Southern California, called “Ship Shock.” The NRDC learned that the most significant impacts were from the noise generated.
Active sonar testing, which blasts noise out across large frequency bands. The loud engines of commercial vessels. High energy seismic arrays, which fire giant air cannons under water to search for oil and natural gas deposits. These are all elements that create what Reynolds called “a wall of sound.”
Marine life, and mammals in particular, need to hear in order to find food, mates, and maintain awareness. Trapped in what Reynolds called “an acoustic smog” can lead to increased stress and reduce the abilities and ranges of marine mammals. Intense sound can also cause internal hemorrhaging and has been linked to numerous mass beachings.
The hour-long film begins at 7 p.m., following a cocktail reception at 6. The screening is free of charge and is open to the public.