Heavy Metal Music Won’t Work to Avoid Orcas

A female orca was observed caring for a pilot whale calf.
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  • Some sailors on the Iberian coast resort to heavy metal to prevent orcas from crashing into their boats.
  • This strategy can backfire, a marine mammal researcher told Insider.
  • The music will also add to the human-made ocean noise that is already a major problem for marine animals.

Sailors use it heavy metal music to deter orcas from crashing into their boats may find the strategy backfires.

After a series of incidents this year in which orca whales began targeting and sinking sailboats near the Iberian Peninsula, sailors in the region are looking for ways to avoid the massive marine mammals.

said the German sailor The New York Times that his crew turned a heavy metal playlist, blasted through underwater speakers, to scare off the orcas—though in his experience, the playlist has been a total failure.

Andrew Trites, director of the Marine Mammal Research Unit at the University of British Columbia, told Business Insider that using humming and roaring tunes to avoid orcas can help whales find boats.

“Initially, playing loud sounds underwater may mask the signature sounds of sailboats — but eventually the whales will pick up on it and use it to more easily find the ships playing it,” Trites said.

Trites also explained that orcas can hear at higher frequencies than humans, meaning that trying to mask the sounds of sailboats that orcas recognize is an exercise in futility.

Finally, practice is not encouraged.

Trites says the only way heavy metal or any music can be effective at deterring orcas from approaching boats is if it’s played so loud that it hurts the animal and causes hearing loss. (Needless to say, people shouldn’t.)

Additionally, Trites told Business Insider that if sailors adopt this method, the most damaging result will be additional noise pollution in the ocean.

“The biggest problem with blasting underwater music of any kind is that it ultimately adds more noise pollution to the ocean, which can have a detrimental effect on other marine life,” Trites said.

Noise pollution is already a major problem for marine animals that rely on sound to attract mates, communicate with friends and family, track food sources, avoid predators and navigate the ocean. From NOAA. Scientists have found that sound travels faster and farther in water than in air, making it a useful tool for underwater creatures. noted.

Human-made noise pollution comes from a variety of sources, including ships, power generation through wind turbines, underwater mining, and even low-flying aircraft. Anthropogenic climate change also affects underwater soundscapes, research shows.

So far, scientists still aren’t sure how to prevent the Iberian orca population from crashing into boats, but experts say there are different ways. keeping sailors safe during these encounters.

These techniques include: avoiding orcas if detected, keeping a distance, turning off boat power and lowering sails, keeping a low profile when approaching a boat, holding on to the boat when it hits, and waiting. until the orcas leave the area until they swim again.

“Right now, the jury is still out on what happened and what (if anything) can be done to stop the targeting of sailboats by this small group of killer whales,” Trites told Insider. “This is not a fad – and it will take a coordinated effort by orca experts and mariners to experimentally test different deterrence methods to figure out what will ultimately work.”

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