Panic, stress, hearing damage and communication problems are just a few of the risks faced by Greenland's whales and seals as a result of increased shipping.
A new report, supported by WWF, assesses the impacts of ship noise on six west Greenland species: narwhal, beluga, bowhead whale, ringed seal, harp seal and walrus.
Noise from shipping traffic is a threat to the Arctic's marine mammals, decreasing their ability to find food, orient themselves and communicate underwater. Intense noise can induce panic and chronic stress, and even hearing damage.
WWF recommends that...
- ships be prohibited in the most vulnerable areas, and during the seasons where marine mammals are most vulnerable;
- ships slow down to reduce noise;
- environmental assessments better describe the consequences of shipping to and from a mine project;
- ships make use of a new poster that helps mariners avoid marine mammals.
Some of the recent increase in shipping is due to the Canadian Baffinland mine project in Nunavut, but more development is on the horizon.
This month, WWF held public meetings on the Baffinland mine in four Greenlandic communities.
After months of bad northern climate-change news — Canada’s Arctic warming at three times the global rate, permafrost melting 70 years ahead of predictions, the worst polar wildfire season on record — plans have now moved forward to protect Tuvaijuittuq.
WWF biologists are now at Narwhal Camp in Canada’s Far North alongside Fisheries and Oceans Canada researchers and other partners, as field work for this and other research projects supported by WWF-Canada’s Arctic Species Conservation Fund (ASCF) gets underway.