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Current Events in Hearing Loss: SeaWorld and Apple

Though widely known as a fun place to take your kids, SeaWorld has recently come under fire for its treatment of its orca whales. In the 2013 hit documentary Blackfish, the life of Tilikum, a two-year-old orca whale taken away from his family and natural habitat, is examined and criticized. SeaWorld fought back, writing on its website that “To make these ultimately false and misleading points, the film conveys falsehoods, manipulates viewers emotionally and relies on questionable filmmaking techniques to create “facts” that support its point of view.” As it turns out, SeaWorld is once again under in relation to their treatment of their orca whales.

Whales’ Extraordinary Hearing

Orca whales have an extraordinary sense of hearing, 500 to 100,000 hertz in comparison to human’s 20 to 20,000 hertz. Unlike humans who lose their sense of direction of sound when they go underwater, whales and dolphins have an insulated tympanum. A tympanum is a sort of external ear drum that communicates to the internal ear drum which is protected from water. This means that not only is whale hearing better than humans, but they are also better with directional hearing!

SeaWorld’s role in Whale Hearing Loss

What does whale hearing have to do with SeaWorld? Since SeaWorld aims to attract families and entertain children of all ages, they include many spectacles within their summer celebrates. Fireworks, loud music, and blaring speakers are all part of their whale exhibits. This means that the whales with such excellent hearing are subject to even more hearing damage. Concerned whale advocates have written and complained to SeaWorld who seems to have already done their homework on the subject. They worked with the Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute and National Marine Mammal Foundation to gauge the levels of underwater sounds. Their research resulted in the finding that underwater noises within the park are actually quieter than those in the ocean. It seems that concerning the debate over which side is “right,” both SeaWorld and orca whale advocates have compelling research to back up their arguments. Now it’s up to you to decide if SeaWorld is the best stop for your family vacation!

Apple’s Answer to Issues with Hearing Aids

When news of the release of the Apple Watch hit social media, there was an instant buzz. The branding of Apple has been overwhelming associated with positive steps forward in not only the world of technology, but also the world of the hearing and sight impaired. The Apple Watch includes several key features that improve the lives of those with hearing aids.

Apple Watch’s Bluetooth Capabilities

The watch connects to Bluetooth hearing aids, essentially turning them into headphones. Instead of having to choose between listening to ear buds and wearing your hearing aids, the Apple Watch allows both to happen. The volume is mixed in a way that you can still hear the sounds surrounding you while also listening to music.

Adjusting Hearing Aid Volumes with a Watch

You can fine tune four key settings (all around, restaurant, music, outdoor) for your preference. An app on the watch syncs your hearing aid with your watch, allowing you to choose the best option for your environment. If you are inside at a party or outside going for a run, you can tailor the volumes on your hearing aid without having to take them out of your ears.

Though the kinks are still getting worked out and the cost is relatively high, the Apple Watch may be a good option for those technology-savvy individuals with hearing loss looking to improve their ease of hearing aid use!

By: Diana Michel

Sources: Sea World of Hurt, Sea World Cares, Senses in Orcas, Cult of Mac, The DoDo

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