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The captains of container ships, ferries, and fuel tankers passing through the Puget Sound near Seattle will be asked slow down this fall, in order to protect the region’s highly endangered population of orcas.
Under a trial, organized by a government-funded initiative Quiet Sound, large ships will be asked to voluntarily cut their speed by between 30-50%, as they pass through a 20-mile stretch of the shipping lane, the NorthWest News Network first reported.
The aim is to reduce the amount of noise, and therefore sound disturbance caused to the local population of Southern Resident orcas, also known as Southern Resident killer whales. The species, which live in social pods, rely on echolocation for navigation and hunting, which can be disrupted by the noise from large ships passing.
“When large vessels slow their speed they reduce the amount of underwater noise they create and less underwater noise means better habitat for the endangered Southern Resident killer whales,” Rachel Aronson, the program director of Quiet Sound, told the NW News Network.
The slowdown could add between 10 minutes to an hour onto the travel time of participating ships, Aronson told the Washington Post. The trial will initially run from October 24 to December 22, per Quiet Sound.
Quiet Sound was launched in June 2021 with the aim of understanding and minimizing the impact of large container ships on Washington State’s population of Southern Resident killer whales.
There were just 74 Southern Resident killer whales remaining in the wild, as of December 2020, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
The trial is influenced by a similar program introduced by The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, in Canada, per the NW News Network.
Quiet Sound did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for further comment, made outside normal working hours.
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Container ships are being asked to slow down near Seattle in order to protect endangered killer whales – Business Insider Africa
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