This Map Lets You Listen To The World Without Human Noise

Numerous studies have shown that noise is changing the way birds communicate and migrate. Pictured is a Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs) singing in New Zealand. Don Mammoser/Shutterstock

It’s no secret: we humans are a noisy lot. From the booming base of music festivals to the rush hour horns and squealing breaks, noise pollution is everywhere and it’s hurting humans and animals alike.

To highlight these issues, Sounding Nature has compiled the largest global collection of natural sounds completed with nearly 500 recordings void of human disturbance from 55 different countries, from buggy wetlands to windswept cliffsides featuring animals from around the world, such as the soothing songs of nightingales and the dramatic arguments between baboons.

Broken into two parts, first a field recording of the sound and then a reimagined musical remix inspired by it, the map is meant to reflect on how humans are impacting the natural world with the unnatural sounds they produce.  

“The impact of human-generated noise on nature is under-examined, but can cause devastating harm to our natural environment,” wrote the producers on their website. “Our aim in this project is to use sound as a tool to highlight not just the beauty of the sonic natural world that surrounds us, but the harm we are causing it.”

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Indeed, numerous studies have shown that anthropogenic noise like traffic, concerts, and machinery (to name a few) can result in detrimental effects to the animal kingdom. A 2015 study found noise can change the natural migrations of certain bird species, causing them to avoid areas saturated with artificial or unfamiliar noises. Biologists in Washington, DC found that birds are even changing the way they sing during times of high traffic – behavioral changes that have been similarly found across the continent in San Francisco

Below waters, scientists say that virtually no marine habitat is devoid of human sounds that are caused by shipping and deep-sea drilling, among other things.  This ocean noise can interfere with marine animals’ ability to hear natural sounds in their environment, resulting in their ability to find prey, mates, and offspring, avoid predators, guide themselves throughout the ocean, and listen and communicate with each other. A study published earlier this year found that marine mammals like whales and dolphins, who rely on sound for communication, are simplifying their calls in order to be heard over anthropogenic noise

Human-made noise has also been shown to have a destructive impact on certain species’ ability to interpret olfactory information through scent, putting them at a greater risk from predators. 

Noise isn’t just changing animal behavior. Across the board, it’s also stressing animals out, resulting in alterations to their metabolism, performance, health, reproduction, and behavior overall

The project's producing company Cities and Memory is a collaborative project that creates sound maps from around the world by first featuring an original recording and then creating a “reimagined sound” with musical artists.

[H/T: The Verge

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