Walruses and Double Bass

Yes, you read it correctly.

Who knew that a walrus could play a double bass? Well, in fact, they can’t.

But they do communicate with sound. They have quite the repertoire. You can read more about this aspect of ‘walrus-ness’ here.

So what is it about walruses and double bass? At a zoo in Tacoma, one of the workers is a bass player. She plays her bass for the walruses. And they seem to like it. OR perhaps not? It is not clear to me if they are happy to hear her or unhappy. See what you think when you watch the video.

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Race Horses and Noise

So who knew? Thanks to a tip off from my bookie MJB, I have found out that quite a few race horses wear earplugs when they race!

It makes sense, but was a surprise! Race tracks are loud, very loud. And horses have very good and sensitive hearing. The jockey does not want the horse distracted or scared by crowd noise. As this article notes, a pair of $6 earplugs helped win the Belmont race in 2015. (You can see the earplugs in the photo above.) As the article notes, other trainers and owners are following suit.

Now this year, the races are being run with no audiences, so maybe the earplugs are not necessary. But given that horses can hear sound that is far away, I would think they would use them in every race.

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Noise and Toronto, Ontario


noie toronto



The other day, yet another article showed up in my Google noise alert message.  This one is about noise in Toronto.  The twist I liked was that Mr. Braga provides a historical context to noise in Toronto, starting with the first anti-noise movement in the 1930s, which resulted in the 1939 city by-law against “unnecessary noise”. He also notes that plans to restrict noise has often been directed at people of colour and other marginalized groups, which is an aspect of the anti-noise movement that is often neglected.

It is a good article – check it out.

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Bern, Switzerland

swiss bikers

The Swiss government is planning on introducing two pieces of legislation, both aimed at decreasing noise in the country.  First up is a ban on motorcycles that emit 95 decibels.  The second part is allowing more use of noise radar, to identify and fine noisy bikes.

Apparently last weekend about 200 motorcyclists held a rally in Bern to protest the planned legislation. You can more about it here, and also link to some other articles about noise radar and noisy motorcycles. And there was another protest the following week.

It sure would be great if they can solve this problem, and provide a model for dealing with noisy motorcycles.

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Noisy cars

Another city/town in Ontario is going after noisy cars and other vehicles. It is Guelph’s turn now.


Maybe we can do this in Peterborough, where I live?  (I can point the police to a nearby location where those darn young people meet to show off their hot and noisy cars, and then race away.)

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Some good news for home buyers



When people are looking to buy a home, they most often go to a real estate agent. But, as this article notes, real estate information talks about prices, access to transportation, walkability, and schools, etc., but it doesn’t mention noise levels. And noise level is a very important factor in your living environment.

The article is about Brendan Farrell, an applied mathematician, who has designed “… HowLoud, the first comprehensive, block-by-block tool to measure urban environmental noise.” (https://gizmodo.com/find-out-how-loud-your-new-neighborhood-will-be-before-1772510216)

And here is an article about HowLoud from 2015, when they were just starting up. Read the article to find out more.  It doesn’t look as if HowLoud has maps for cities in Canada, but maybe they will in the future.

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The Windsor “Hum”


There is a “hum” to be heard in Windsor, Ontario. This noise was reported on back in 2011, after a Canadian government study was made public.  The “hum” has been talked about for years.

People don’t really notice is as a sound, but more as feeling. Why?  Well,

“In all instances, the hum has been described as more of a feeling than a sound — a general sense of uneasiness and reverberation through one’s body.  That’s because the hum usually comes in the form of a frequency lower than 30 hertz, which is the bottom end of humans’ natural hearing ability. These types of “infrasounds” are typically quite hard to detect.” (https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/windsor/windsor-hum-zug-island-us-steel-1.5665100)

There were suspicions about its source, but it seems now to be clear.  (Read this NYT article from 2018.)

The “hum” is now gone. Why?  Because the US Steel plant on Zug Island has been shut down. It appears that it has been the culprit all along. (Though some people say it is still there.)

You can read more about the “hum” and its departure in this CBC article.

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Ocean Noise

whales underwater

One upside of the Covid era is that ocean noise (ships, sonor, etc.) is down about 50%, and the animals of the ocean are getting a break from the effects of incessant underwater noise. Read more here.

You can watch the trailer for the 2017 documentary “Sonic Sea” at the film’s website.  Or you can watch the whole film for about $4.00.  The site also provides a link for you to take action against ocean noise.

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Leaf Blowers, again

Yes, it is that season again. Well, not for blowing leaves so much as for blowing grass cuttings, etc.  Which, as the NC, I hate.

leaf blower dads

BUT – recently leaf blowers have been rehabilitated in my eyes. Apparently there are a number of “Leaf-Blower Dads” at the protests in Portland, Oregon, using their blowers to blow tear gas back at the federal agents who are throwing huge numbers of tear gas canisters at the protestors. (The “Dads” wear orange shirts, while the “Walls of Moms” wear yellow shirts.)

See them in action here.

So, noisy as the blowers are, I have to say yahoo to the “LBDs”.

leaf blower dads 2

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Stadium Noise

BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL, 29:  Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chr


So baseball season is starting up.  But in empty stadiums – no crowds, no hotdogs, no waving of merchandise, no cheering, no tailgating, no waiting to get out of the parking lot.

But wait!  Where did that booing come from?  That cheering?

Various baseball teams are trying out a baseball game soundtrack, so it won’t feel quite so weird to play to empty seats.

Check out the story here.

(And hockey teams are also trying out soundtracks for their games in empty stadiums.)

All too weird.  Just think – IF you could get a seat at one of these events, you could have just heard the noise of the game –  the bat striking, the players calling to each other, the whump of the ball in the catcher’s mitt. It would have been an eerie but amazing experience. But no, they want noise.  Dang!!  (You can hear what it sounds like in the video in the link above.)

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