There are more than 300,000 ferry sailings in the Salish Sea in a single year. Washington waters also host 6,330 cargo, container and passenger vessels and 1,134 oil tankers and barge tows annually. Add to that a fleet of small, but noisy, pleasure craft zipping across the waves and it adds up to a cacophony of sound that is nothing like music to the sensitive hearing of the orcas.
The sleek killer whales that have been emblematic of the Northwest since before white settlers arrived are imperiled because of all the racket. Already stressed by pollution and the diminished salmon population on which they feed, the orcas are finding it increasingly difficult to locate the prey that remain because their highly sensitive sonic capability is being drowned out by all the sound of human machinery. The conveyors of commerce on the surface of the sea are clanging a death knell for the creatures below.
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