NUIG researchers find trawling noise can put protected marine mammals at risk


Galway Bay fm newsroom – Researchers from NUI Galway have found that trawling noise can put protected marine mammals at risk.

The study has revealed that noise from bottom trawling in or near underwater canyons can disturb protected mammals, such as fin whales and beaked whales, in important feeding grounds and along migratory paths.

The team linked with i CRAG, the SFI Research Centre for Applied Geosciences in NUIG’s Ryan Institute, used hydrophones to record the impact of working trawlers on marine areas in two surveys in the Irish and Celtic seas.

Analysis showed the noise is focused through underwater canyons and is carried to deeper waters, having a potentially harmful effect on the marine environment and the protected mammals which feed in them and migrate through them.

The team also found that modeled trawler sounds generated on the seabed travel underwater more effectively than sound generated at the surface by boats.

Researchers say they hope the findings can contribute to better environmental regulations on bottom trawling in the vicinity of key marine habitats, protected areas and special areas of conservation within Irish waters.