"Sonic Sea" Documentary: The Harms of Ocean Noise

This Emmy award–winning film shows viewers how the underwater racket caused by human activities is destroying marine life.

The ocean is a world of sound, not sight. In the darkness of the sea, whales and other marine life depend on sound to mate, find food, migrate, raise their young, and defend against predators. Over the last century, however, loud noise from commercial ships, oil and gas exploration, naval sonar exercises, and other sources has rattled the ocean’s delicate acoustic habitat, challenging the ability of whales and other marine life to navigate, mate, find food, and simply survive.

To introduce this global problem to millions of people and build momentum for change, NRDC and Imaginary Forces—in association with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and Diamond Docs—created the powerful documentary Sonic Sea. Narrated by the Oscar-nominated actress Rachel McAdams, the film features interviews with Grammy Award-winning musician, human rights and environmental activist Sting, as well as the renowned oceanographic explorers and educators Sylvia Earle and Jean-Michel Cousteau.

Sonic Sea won the Jury Award and the John de Graff Environmental Filmmaking award when it premiered at the Wild & Scenic Film Festival in January 2016 and aired globally on Discovery Channel that spring. In October 2017, the film picked up two more coveted rewards: News & Documentary Emmys for Outstanding Nature Documentary and Outstanding Music & Sound.

Learn more about ocean noise by watching the video below featuring Michael Jasny, NRDC’s director of marine mammal protection, and Daniel Hinerfeld, director of Sonic Sea. To see the film in its entirety, visit sonicsea.org.

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