Din among the Orcas: Are whale watchers making too much noise? | Science News

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Din among the Orcas: Are whale watchers making too much noise?

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12:45pm, April 28, 2004

Whale-watcher boats may be making so much noise that killer whales off the coast of Washington have to change their calls to communicate over the racket.

Recordings made during the past 3 years, after a boom in whale watching in Washington State, show that killer whales lengthen a characteristic call by about 15 percent when boats cluster around them, reports Andrew D. Foote of the University of Durham in England.

Recordings from earlier eras, when there were fewer whale watchers, showed no link between call length and the presence of boats, say Foote and his colleagues in the April 29 Nature. They suggest that boats following the whales may not interfere with animal communication until some critical number

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