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News Release

Scientists, Conservationists to Discuss Ocean Noise Pollution During ‘Sonic Sea’ Screening and Panel June 13 at VLS

Monday, May 22, 2017


​Ocean specialists and wildlife conservationists will examine the effects of manmade noise pollution and potential solutions for a more sustainable future during a panel discussion following a film screening of "Sonic Sea" at 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 13, in Oakes Hall, Room 007, at Vermont Law School. The event is free and open to the public and press.

The award-winning documentary highlights the human impact on the marine environment.

"We are all connected to the ocean," said explorer and educator Jean-Michel Cousteau, founder and president of the Ocean Futures Society. "Without healthy oceans, no life, even on land, can exist. Marine life is now at risk from a constant barrage of noise from industrial and military activities. The future of the oceans, and ourselves, depends on the ability of humans to control this serious threat to marine animals. Protect the ocean and you protect yourself."

Cousteau will participate on the VLS panel, moderated by Don Baur, professor of Ocean and Coastal Law. Additional panelists include Michael Jasny, senior policy analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and director of the Marine Mammal Protection Project; Darren Ireland, LGL senior wildlife biologist and marine mammals specialist; Dr. Heather Rally, wildlife veterinarian with the PETA Foundation and Oceanic Preservation Society; and Dr. Chris Clark, senior scientist and director of the Bioacoustics Research Program at the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology and member of the International Whaling Commission Scientific Committee.

"Many marine creatures are equipped with sophisticated and sensitive auditory systems that serve an essential function for survival in the ocean," Rally said. "When we disrupt this basic biological mechanism, we place animals, and potentially ecosystems, at risk in unforeseen and severely under-appreciated ways."

"Sonic Sea" gathers together bioacoustics engineers, oceanographers, marine ecologists, ocean activists and others to spotlight a pressing but little-known issue. The film uses cutting-edge acoustic technology to showcase the impact of military and commercial noise pollution on whales' echolocation. This impact causes a disruption in normal behavior and communication among whales, resulting in an increase in unusual and harmful behavior, such as beachings. For more information about the film, visit

A reception with light refreshments will follow the screening and panel discussion at VLS. For more information, email or visit the event page on Facebook. For more information about VLS events open to the public, including free "Hot Topics" lectures during Summer Session, visit


Vermont Law School, a private, independent institution, is home to the nation's largest and deepest environmental law program. VLS offers a Juris Doctor curriculum that emphasizes public service; three Master's Degrees—Master of Environmental Law and Policy, Master of Energy Regulation and Law, and Master of Food and Agriculture Law and Policy; and four post-JD degrees —LLM in American Legal Studies (for foreign-trained lawyers), LLM in Energy Law, LLM in Environmental Law, and LLM in Food and Agriculture Law. The school features innovative experiential programs and is home to the Environmental Law Center, South Royalton Legal Clinic, Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic, Energy Clinic, Food and Agriculture Clinic, and Center for Applied Human Rights. For more information, visit, find us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.