Over the last fifty years, our increasing ocean presence has had a profoundly negative impact on marine life — and in more ways than you might expect.

Whales, dolphins, and other mammals rely on and communicate through ocean sound. On average, sounds can travel five times faster (and even further) in water compared to air.

They rely on ocean sound to find mates and food, and detect when predators are near. Noise pollution from humans is invisible but has a devastating effect on whales, dolphins, and other marine life. According to the National Rescue Defense Council (NRDC) President Rhea Shuh, “We’re drowning the ocean in sound.”

She goes on to say, “Science has made clear that noise produced by human activity is having serious – sometimes deadly – effects on whales, dolphins, and other marine mammals. Life and death literally hang in the balance for many of these animals. It’s critical that we take action to protect them.”

It’s high time for a larger conversation around the harmful presence of noise pollution in the ocean. Sonic Sea, a new award-winning documentary, aims to do that. According to Sonic Sea, there are three main contributors to noise pollution in the ocean — military, industrial, and commercial — and noise pollution comes in the form of sonar, seismic, and shipping. Not only does the documentary educate viewers on the issues of noise pollution and its devastating effect on marine life, but it also offers solutions to the problem – ways in which we can decrease noise pollution and make it a safer place for its inhabitants.

Along with sound pollution, of course, whales and other marine life are plagued by the harmful effects of manmade garbage on their home. More and more fish every year are found with plastic in their bellies. They often mistake it for food, and it lingers in their stomachs leaking harmful chemicals into their bodies.

The ocean is an important part of the world. “Countless species depend on a healthy ocean, including our own,” said International Fund for Animal Welfare’s whale program director, Patrick Ramage. It’s time to stop trashing it with litter, chemical waste — and noise.