"Sound does not propagate well from air into water and vice versa," Ketten told The Dodo, explaining that the sound will be much louder if the animal's ears are above water, like if they are in the air or close to the launch spot. Luckily, echolocation is a high-frequency noise that fireworks likely won't interfere with.
"The real hazard auditorily is that fireworks produce impulse noise and that -- if you are close enough -- is more of a hazard than slow rise time noises," she said.
Marine mammal scientist Dr. Naomi Rose of the Animal Welfare Institute agreed, saying that the real damage happens when animals, specifically orcas, lift their heads out of the water, waiting for fish or simply looking around.
"They will be exposed intermittently to the noise and it no doubt can be as terrifying to some orcas as it is to dogs," she said. "It may be irritating, even if they are not afraid. It is loud, constant for as long as the fireworks show goes on, and they can't avoid it."
Activists have noted that this is another result of captivity that harms whales. Said Candace Crespi of the Oceanic Preservation Society: