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Dr. Marsha Green to discuss impacts of underwater noise pollution

By Staff | Jan 16, 2014

KIHEI – Dr. Marsha Green will present the lecture “Underwater Noise Pollution: Impacts on Cetaceans and Other Marine Life” on Wednesday, Jan. 15, at 6 p.m. at the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary.

David Henkin of Earthjustice will join Dr. Green to offer his expertise on current legal issues.

The lecture will be followed by a question and answer session. All are welcome to attend.

Ocean noise is a form of pollution caused by anthropogenic (human-generated) activities. It includes vessel traffic; military activities, including sonar; geophysical activities used in the exploration for oil and gas (seismic air guns, explosives, etc.); oceanographic experimentation; and underwater construction.

According to Green, ocean noise pollution affects all cetaceans. It can result in whale and dolphin strandings, and it can be lethal.

It also affects fish behaviors and depletes fish stocks, which limits access to protein critical for developing countries. Depleting fish stocks also affects the fishing industry.

Green is the Ocean Mammal Institute’s (OMI) president and founder. She holds a doctorate from Temple University in Animal Behavior and Physiological Psychology.

Dr. Green is a licensed psychologist and professor at Albright College in Reading, Pennsylvania, where she serves as chair of the Psychology Department. She founded the psychobiology curriculum and lectures on ecological psychology at Albright.

Since 1986, Green has been conducting whale and dolphin research in Hawaii.

Her initial research on the impact of parasailing and jet skis on humpback whales in the shallow waters of the Hawaiian Islands led her to further studies that documented the effects of noise from vessel traffic on ocean mammals.

In 2002, her efforts helped lead to the European Parliament’s resolution to ban sonar in European waters until further research was conducted.

She was also instrumental in the establishment of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary.

Dr. Green was among the first people to state that strandings of whales were being caused by high intensity active sonar.

OMI has been a plaintiff in several federal lawsuits to mitigate the effects of sonar, especially in sensitive whale breeding grounds.

She has worked in the United States and internationally to protect whales and dolphins with members of the European Parliament, United Nations, members of the U.S. Congress, NATO officials and a federal advisory committee.

Dr. Green believes her major accomplishment on the ocean noise issue has been her work at the United Nations. Her ten-year effort has resulted in ocean noise being recognized as a key “threat to marine ecosystems and living resources” in the “UNCLOS at 30” report (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.)