In The Great Animal Orchestra, Bernie Krause writes, “Pound for pound, one of the loudest organisms in the animal kingdom is, oddly enough, the inch-and-a-half-long snapping shrimp”. He notes, “It (The shrimp) generates a signal (sound) with its large claw that can meet or exceed 200 dB underwater—a sound pressure level equivalent to around 165 dB in air”. The decibel output of the shrimp is so great, it can be compared to that of a symphony orchestra, which is known to generate up to around 110 dBA. And when compared to the decibel output of a screaming human, the shrimp still measures 48 dBA greater. In a final comparison, Krause explains the true incredulity of the feat this “inch-and-a-half-long snapping shrimp” is able to accomplish. Few other natural sounds generated in air—negating a volcanic eruption or crack of thunder— hold the potential to cause hearing damage.
To me this is truly amazing. I may live my whole life without seeing this shrimp. But thanks to people like Krause, I may not lose the ability to witness the soundscape this incredible shrimp creates each and every day. While this shrimp lives day in and day out underwater, subjecting the marine life around it to the resonating snap of its claw, ground dwellers are ignorant to its song.
In summation to the artfully written chapter, Sound as My Mentor, I feel Krause conveyed a strong urgency for us all to increase our appreciation for a medium we do not see. “(Sound) plays a key role in the ways societies express themselves; it is fundamental to the collective voice of the natural world, to music, and to acoustic notes of all kinds”. And from what I gather, the sounds which we don’t hear could be our biggest loss. My question however, is how do you get people to stop and listen? And if we all do take brief moments to appreciate the sounds and breath of nature, how do we take the next step to protect each sound and maintain the nature of Earth’s ecosystem?
“The fourth major sound property, acoustic envelope, determines the shape and texture of a sound through time”. With that in mind, what will the acoustic envelope of the Anthropocene be? I hope the final notes are anything but silent.