(NPR) — As the pandemic slows down shipping, the oceans have become quieter.
Scientists are using the chance to learn more about whales' communication — which could potentially inform new policies to protect them.
A drop in shipping traffic is reducing underwater noise, so scientists are listening for how whales and other marine life are responding.
As the COVID-19 pandemic slows international shipping and keeps cruise ships docked, scientists are finding measurably less noise in the ocean. That could provide momentary relief for whales and other marine mammals that are highly sensitive to noise.
Through networks of underwater hydrophones, scientists are hoping to learn how the mammals' communication changes when the drone of ships is turned down, potentially informing new policies to protect them.