The Environmental Impact of Cruise Ships on Marine Wildlife
Lucy received a Marine Biology degree in 2015. Lucy has been seeking opportunities to learn about the marine environment and has worked as a marine scientist on cruise ships. Follow Lucy’s zero-waste journey on her Instagram account @zero_hero_movement, and find inspiration on her blog, The Zero Hero Movement.
I met Lucy, a fellow zero waster when I shared a video on my Insta Story of a cruise. The video was taken in Stanley Park, Vancouver. Vancouver is a coastal town by the Pacific Ocean, and you can see wildlife, such as seals, on the city’s beaches. You can see whales in West Vancouver, just a short distance from Downtown. This massive cruise ship was in party mode and playing music at such a loud volume that it was as if I had my headphones set to maximum volume. We weren’t on the ship.
I was angry and shocked. Many marine animals use echolocation. How could they be so disrespectful? Lucy responded to my story and shared her knowledge as an expert marine biologist about large cruise ships’ impact on marine wildlife.
LUCY, TELL US HOW YOU GET INTO ZERO WASTE!
I have always been a “green thinker.” The natural world is something I value greatly. I recognized this early in my life and educated myself on how to best help it. Before I returned to university, I worked in waste management. My team provided recycling schemes that were ‘closed-loop’ for other companies. It sparked an interest in the way we consume as a species, and I began to wonder where our waste actually goes.
I studied marine biology at university in my mid-twenties. It was this combination that led me to realize that we can only prevent plastics from entering the environment if we reduce what we use. We can only preserve our planet by pursuing zero waste goals. With the increasing demand for living a zero-waste lifestyle, we will be able to shift the global economic system.
I LOVE THE NAME “ZERO HERO MOVEMENT” YOU CHOSE! It is so positive and embodies the social spirit that I, a Lone Wolf, really admire. What is the subject of your blog and Instagram?
Zero Hero Movement is all about inspiring people to realize they can have a positive influence on the world. I don’t like the idea that “one person cannot make an impact” I just can’t accept it! I think of myself as a fairly ordinary person. I am not different from anyone, and I want to show people they can make a difference. Community is something that I value a lot. I love to help others achieve their goals and enjoy learning from them. I thought someone might remember from my experience, so I decided to share my story and engage with others hoping that ethical practices would become the norm.
LUCY TOLD ME YOU USED TO WORK ON LARGE CRUISE SHIPS AND FERRIES MONITORING MARINE LIFE. Who hired you? DO THESE SHIPS NEED TO HAVE EXPERTS LIKE YOU ON BOARD?
I worked for a charity that promoted conservation and lived and worked on cruise ships and ferries around the globe. The ships do not have to carry marine biologists, but having them onboard is a great way to add a green tick to their resume. It also offers an additional element of entertainment for the passengers. This is an excellent opportunity for charities to use these vessels that sail regularly to monitor marine life and educate the public. This is a perfect opportunity to help the oceans.
You told me that the biggest problem is not the music but the engines reverberating through the water louder than any music. WHAT IS THE IMPACT ON MARINE ANIMALS?
The sound travels through water five times faster than in the air. These ships are like substantial floating hotels, and you can even hear them from onboard. You can also be sure that the engines can be heard in the water a long distance away. It still needs to be made clear how this impacts marine animals. Of course, many animals perceive or interpret sound differently, so it would be best to examine this issue from the perspective of each species. Whales and Dolphins, however, are highly dependent on sound. They use their advanced communication abilities. Some use echolocation to find prey and navigate through oceans. They also use it to communicate important messages. It is much harder for them to communicate if the seas are already noisy. I could not hear you if we were on the other side of a highway.