16. Oceans

Cell towers on the ocean floorNewsletter International Appeal to Stop 5G on Earth and in Space

In 2018, on land and in space, preparations to deploy millions of antennas were very
publicly being made and advertised, for “5G,” “Smart Cities,” and the “Internet of
Things.” At the same time, and without any publicity, governments, research
laboratories, and commercial and military interests were collaborating on plans to
create “Smart Oceans” and the “Internet of Underwater Things” (IoUT). They did not
consult the fishes, whales, dolphins, octopuses, and other inhabitants of those

In the United States, the National Science Foundation funded what it called the
SEANet Project. The goal was to enable broadband wireless communication from any
point on or in the oceans to anywhere else on the planet or in space. The Internet of
Underwater Things is being designed to enable all the same communication
capabilities that are being provided on land, including “real-time video streaming
from underwater.”

In the last three years, a flood of papers have been published by scientists and
engineers in the U.S., China, Pakistan, Qatar, South Korea, Spain, Australia, Greece,
Italy, France, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere. In 2020, the IEEE Internet of
Things Journal published a Special Issue on Internet of Things for Smart Ocean. In
2019, the journal Sensors published a Special Issue on Smart Ocean: Emerging
Research Advances, Prospects and Challenges, and the same journal is now
publishing another Special Issue on Internet of Underwater Things.

Some of the activities that supposedly “need” this technology in the oceans are:

  1. climate change monitoring
  2. pollution control and tracking
  3. disaster prevention including tsunami warning systems
  4. ocean exploration
  5. fishing and aquaculture
  6. coral reef harvesting
  7. tectonic plate monitoring
  8. navigation
  9. global oceanic trade
  10. oil and gas exploration and production
  11. military communication and surveillance

The infrastructure that is beginning to be deployed, throughout the oceans, includes:

  1. sensors and antennas (“nodes”) on the ocean floor
  2. nodes at different depths
  3. surface nodes
  4. relay antennas at different depths to transmit data vertically from the
  5. ocean floor to the ocean surface, and horizontally between nodes
  6. Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs)
  7. Autonomous Surface Vehicles (ASVs)
  8. underwater robots
  9. wireless surface buoys
  10. smart boats and ships
  11. smart submarines
  12. smart shores

Communication being more difficult to accomplish underwater than through the air,
and more subject to interference, several different types of communication media
are being used in the oceans to send data at different speeds and over different
distances. Acoustic waves, radio waves, lasers, LED light, and magnetic induction are
all being used to flood the oceans with data. An underwater GPS system is being
developed. Most of these media work only for short- to medium-range
communication. Long-range communication relies on acoustic waves, and is similar
to the technology used in ocean sonar.

These technologies are already being marketed commercially and installed in the
world’s oceans today. At the 2022 Oceanology International conference, which will
be held in London from March 15 to 17, dozens of these companies will be exhibiting
their products.

  • WaterLinked sells underwater sensor technology through distributors around the
    world for use in aquaculture, and in underwater navigation. “Our Wireless Sense™
    technology enables reliable wireless communication and innovative subsea sensor
    solutions,” says their website.
  • EvoLogics sells underwater acoustic modems, both mid-range and long-range, that
    “provide full-duplex digital communication.”
  • SonarDyne International sells underwater acoustic modems to the oil and gas
    industry and to governments and navies.
  • Voyis sells short- and long-range underwater laser scanners.
  • GeoSpectrum sells “integrated, end-to-end acoustic systems” for oil and gas
    exploration and for military purposes.
  • Dynautics sells autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs).
  • Seaber sells “off-the-shelf micro-AUVs.”
  • Hydromea markets “the first ever tether-less underwater drone.”
  • Mediterraneo Señales Maritimas sells “data buoys that integrate sensors through
    our datalogger so the data can be transmitted to a remote station and displayed on
    our software.”
  • 3D at Depth, Inc. “provides advanced subsea LIDAR laser systems.”
  • Teledyne Marine sells Autonomous Underwater Gliders, Autonomous Underwater
    Vehicles (“unmanned robot submarines”) and “laser systems for both shallow and
    deep-sea submerged diving.”

“Underwater robots swarm the ocean,” says a page on the website of the Woods
Hole Oceanographic Institute. The Institute has developed an acoustic-based
navigation system that is enabling large numbers of underwater robots to work
together. “Instead of using just a single, larger and more expensive underwater robot
to cover an area of the ocean, we want to have hundreds or even thousands of
smaller, lower-cost robots that can all work in sync,” says their webpage.
Ocean protection organizations have long been campaigning against noise pollution
in the oceans, but they are only beginning to be aware of this new type of assault,
which has the potential to dwarf all previous noise assaults in its scope and
magnitude. For example, one of the campaigns of the environmental organization,
Sea Shepherd, is “Silencing the Deafening Roar of Ocean Noise Pollution.” They

“In 1953, Jacques Cousteau published a classic memoir on his early days of underwater exploration. He titled this book The Silent World. Today, human activities make a mockery of that title. Over the past several decades, marine noise pollution has grown at an exponential rate. Noise from vessel traffic is doubling every decade. Pile-driving, dredging, sonar, and seismic exploration for oil and gas add to the cacophony. For marine wildlife, and especially for acoustically-sensitive cetaceans, this anthropogenic racket poses a grave and growing threat. Ocean noise pollution causes severe stress, behavioral changes, masking (i.e., difficulty perceiving important natural sounds), strandings, and noise-induced loss of hearing sensitivity.”

To this mix is now being added the Internet of Underwater Things, which is beginning
to flood the oceans with sound in order to connect them to the Internet. And this
sound will be pulse-modulated with the same harmful frequencies as radio waves in
order to carry the same data. And to communicate over large distances, some of the
underwater acoustic modems that are being marketed are capable of producing
sound as loud as 202 decibels. That is equivalent to 139 decibels in air. It is as loud as
a jet engine at a distance of 100 feet, and is above the threshold for pain in humans.
These modems blast modulated sound at frequencies ranging from 7 kHz to 170 kHz,
encompassing almost the entire hearing range of dolphins, which use sound for
hunting and navigating.

The effects of sonar on whales and dolphins have been widely publicized. But the
effects of noise pollution on fish and other denizens of the deep are just as
devastating, as Lindy Weilgart details in her 36-page report for OceanCare. She
reviews 115 research studies on the effects of noise on 66 species of fish and 36
species of invertebrates.

“Most fish and invertebrates use sound for vital life functions,” she writes.“Noise impacts on development include body malformations, higher egg or immature mortality, developmental delays, delays in metamorphosing and settling, and slower growth rates… Anatomical impacts from noise involve massive internal injuries, cellular damage to statocysts and neurons, causing disorientation and even death, and hearing loss Behaviorally, animals showed alarm responses, increased aggression, hiding, and flight reactions; and decreased anti-predator defense, nest digging, nest care, courtship calls, spawning, egg clutches, and feeding. Some commercial catches dropped by up to 80% due to noise, with larger fish leaving the area.”

If the new assault continues, it will provide the last nails in the coffins of our oceans,
and — since the oceans are the source of all life — of our planet. Already in 1970, just
17 years after he published The Silent World, Jacques Cousteau, returning from 3½
years of exploration in which he traveled 155,000 miles, told the world:

“The oceans are dying. The pollution is general.” “People don’t realize that all pollution goes to the seas,” said Cousteau. “The earth is less polluted. It is washed by the rain which carries everything into the oceans where life has diminished by 40 per cent in 20 years. Fish disappear. Flora too.”

And what was not being poisoned was being mined for food as though ocean life was an inexhaustible resource.

“The oceans are being scraped,” he said. “Eggs and larvae are disappearing. In the past, the sea renewed itself. It was a complete cycle. But this balance was upset with the appearance of industrial civilization. Shrimps are being chased from their holes by electric shocks. Lobsters are being sought in impossible
places. Coral itself is disappearing. Even in the Indian Ocean, which is little traveled.”

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