Produced by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Imaginary Forces in association with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and Diamond Docs, Sonic Sea is a 60-minute documentary, narrated by Rachel McAdams, about the impact of industrial and military ocean noise on whales and other marine life.
This GetTogether #3 was a co-presentation with WhiteBox. It was the first showing of this film in the United States.
Sonic Sea is based on the realization by Ken Balcomb, a former US Navy officer, that a recent mass stranding of whales on beaches in the Bahamas had an anthropogenic cause.
The problem was noise. The whales were fleeing from unbearable levels of noise.
Intense man-made noise — naval sonar, for example, or large commercial ships churning the water as they move, or oil companies creating underwater explosions in search of fossil fuels — can cause immediate pain, stress, deafness, and even death in whales, dolphins and other marine life. Tankers and container ships, for example, four football fields long, generate sound at 190 decibels (the loudest that humans can bear is 110 decibels), and there are thousands of these ships traveling around the world at any time, broadcasting their noises in ranges of 1000 kilometers more or less. Whales do not have volume knobs.
The oceans are dark. Life in our oceans depends upon communication via sound. It is those communicative sounds, traveling further and faster than in air, often over 100 miles and more, that guide marine life in finding food, locating mates, protecting the young, defending themselves from predators. As serious as the immediate pain that may drive whales to a beach, underwater noise is also egregious in that it confuses those communicative sounds and, disrupting the normal communications of ocean life, causes disorientation and an inability for marine life to function. It raises the specter of extinction.
Sonic Sea defines the problem. And offers relatively simple solutions. What is needed is political will.
Sonic Sea is narrated by Rachel McAdams and features the musician, human rights and environmental activist, Sting, in addition to the renowned ocean experts Dr. Sylvia Earle, Dr. Paul Spong, Dr. Christopher Clark and Jean-Michel Cousteau.
Sonic Sea was directed and produced by Michelle Dougherty and Daniel Hinerfeld, written by Mark Monroe (The Cove, Racing Extinction) and scored by the Grammy-winning composer Heitor Pereira (Minions, Itʼs Complicated).
For more info about the film,
When & where
Wednesday June 1 2016 @ 7pm
WhiteBox, 329 Broome Street
There were about 30 people who attended the showing. Following the film there was a discussion led by Steven Honigman, attorney, who participated in discussions with the Navy in finding solutions to the harmful use of sonar; and Joel Chadabe, who discussed the role of Ear to the Earth in awareness and connecting people to environmental issues.