How Many Whales Are Killed By Military Sonar Each Year – Six whales washing ashore over the course of 12 years may not seem like cause for alarm, but recent research showing a correlation between beaked whale deaths and sonar tests should prompt us to ask more questions.
A January study from Spain found that beaked whales stranded after marine sonar exercises showed signs of decompression sickness. The disease occurs when whales try to escape the source of noise and swim too quickly to the surface, causing gas bubbles to form in their bodies.
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- Schweinswale Unter Beschuss
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How Many Whales Are Killed By Military Sonar Each Year
Before 2007, there was one beaked whale stranded in Micronesia, in the Marshalls in 1975. Since 2007, there have been six, with four occurring shortly after known Navy operations.
We Should Ask More Questions About Whale Deaths And Sonar: Our View
Brent Tibbatts of the Guam Department of Agriculture said very little is known about beaked whales, and it’s not always possible to know if strandings are caused by sonar.
While the number of dead whales seems far from overwhelming, we only know about the whales that have landed on our shores. Our island is a very small strip of land in a very large ocean, and we do not know how many whales, or other sea creatures, will die without reaching the shore. As Tibbatts said, “When whales die, something different is going on in the environment than we see and experience.”
The history of our environment is full of situations that we did not understand, that did not seem significant at the time, so we did not act. We have moved animals and plants around the world without considering the consequences, leading to introduced species such as the brown tree snake and the rhinoceros beetle. We have accidentally created situations like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch between Hawaii and California. We developed toxins to control pests and weeds, and later learned that these products had devastating effects beyond what we imagined.
After many beaked whale strandings, Spain has banned the use of sonar in the Canary Islands. No strandings have been reported there since then. It’s not proof, but it’s reason to push for more answers. There has long been concern that noise pollution from military sonar pulses could cause mass strandings of whales, and now, after a new review has highlighted this connection, researchers around The world is calling for a wide-scale ban on military sonar to protect deep-diving species, such as sperm whales and snow whales.
Dead Whales That Washed Up On Irish Beaches ‘may Have Been Killed By Military Sonar’
A new review paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of Biology has shown how a ban on the use of medium frequency active sonar (MFAS) around the Canary Islands since 2004 has been successful in reducing negative effects of noise pollution that appears. cause the deep diving beaked whales to strengthen.
Until the 1960s, mass stranding events (MSE’s) or unusual mortality events (UME’s) were quite rare, but rapidly increased in frequency of occurrence after the development and onset of the MFAS (Bernaldo de Quiros et al., 2019). Strandings of beaked whales are a particular cause for concern when two or more whales are found within a six-day period, up to 74 km apart, indicating that the stranding event was likely the result of noise pollution (Brownell et al., 2008). Temporal and spatial associations with MFAS and MSE’s were first noted in the Canary Islands in the 1980s (Simmonds & Lopezjurado, 1991), but definitive links were determined for similar associations in Greece in 1996 and in the Bahamas in 2000 (Cox et al. 2006).
Whales and dolphins, especially deep diving whales, such as sperm whales ( Physeter macrocephalus ) and beaked whales ( Ziphius spp.), rely on sound to communicate, navigate and forage at great depths of > 1000 m, so their survival depends on their hearing – and sound production skills. The sperm whale is the loudest animal on earth, capable of producing sounds above 230 dB, which allows it to communicate with companions over great distances, across ocean basins.
Noise pollution from active military sonar and underwater exploration for oil and gas (with seismic airgun blasting), pose significant threats to the long-term viability of deep-diving cetacean populations and their conservation.
Schweinswale Unter Beschuss
In toothed whales, (e.g. dolphins, porpoises, killer whales, sperm whales and beaked whales), sound is produced in the head and passes through the melon, an organ made of fatty tissue that helps focus the sound for echolocation. dense connective tissue directed outwards The melon helps to focus sounds like a lens so that the animal can target the bee, such as channels sound in the inner ear.
The medium frequency has been shown to be emitted at 170 to 195 dB, almost twice as loud as an airplane takes off at about 110 dB, and has been shown to cause harm to whales, including decompression sickness and gas bubbles in their blood, temporary or permanent hearing loss, and stranding mortality. All sounds above 90 dB harm the human ear and above 120 dB can cause irreparable damage. So we can reasonably conclude that military sonar testing has potentially lethal impacts on whales and dolphins.
There are a number of ways that sonar could lead to the stranding of a deep dive; including the induction of a behavioral response to the sound source that leads directly to stranding, ie the animal swims away quickly, for example in deep water areas close to land (fjords, or oceanic islands such as the Bahamas). Physiological responses such as tissue damage in the inner ear leading to hearing loss can be immediate, while other tissue damage in vital organs can be secondary due to changes in the dive profile – ie hypoxia from staying at a greater depth than usual or increased nitrogen supersaturation in the blood leads to gas bubble formation (the bend) (Cox et al., 2006).
A study published in Biology Letters obtained the first direct measurements of behavioral responses of satellite-tagged Cuvier’s beaked whales (Ziphius cavirostris) to controlled exposure to MFAS. DeRuiter et al., (2013), found that beaked whales responded strongly to controlled playbacks at low reception levels (89 to 127 dB); Whales have been observed to stop normal echolocation, swim quickly away from the sound source and prolong the dive, reducing feeding capacity.
Marine Scientists Demand Ban On Mid Frequency Active Military Sonar To Protect Whales!
Another study published in the Royal Society of Publishing, satellite marked 16 Cuvier’s beaked whales for up to 88 days in an area with frequent MFAS tests off the coast of Southern California and found that their behavior was changed in the presence of MFAS. In particular, deep dives, shallow dives and surface intervals tend to be longer, indicating disturbances in foraging (Falcone et al., 2017).
In the summer of 2018, from the beginning of August to the middle of September, over 80 deep diving whales were stranded along the shores of Ireland, Scotland, Norway and Iceland. The majority of species found in Irish waters were Cuvier’s beaked whales. Read more here:
The United Nations, among other international organizations, has also agreed that military active sonar can cause injury and death to cetaceans, especially those that spend 95% of their lives underwater on long foraging dives at great depths, such as killer whales.
Scientists around the world agree that to reduce the effects of sonar on beaked whales, it should not be allowed in critical habitats where they are present. For example, the shelf edge off the west coast of Ireland was shown to be an important habitat for beaked whales in Irish waters during the ObSERVE Acoustic Survey. This was a collaborative study conducted by researchers at University College Cork (UCC), National University Ireland Galway (NUIG), Marine Institute, Center for Renewable Energy Ireland, Marine Conservation Research and Washington State University.
Little is known about beaked whales in Ireland, and new species have been described in recent years. Four beaked whale species have been confirmed in Irish waters to date; the Cuvier’s, the Sowerby’s and True’s beaked whales, and the northern bottlenose whale.
“We think the groups encountered were either Sowerby’s or True’s right whales, possibly both, they are incredibly difficult to positively identify at sea,” said Dr Patricia Breen, NUI Galway, chief scientist at the Survey. We know that they dive for an hour to a great depth of up to 2500m. They mostly feed on squid but also deep sea fish.
Professor Emer Rogan (UCC), in an official statement, said: “The information gathered on this survey will be helpful in our efforts to learn more about the species and to adequately protect the habitat of snow whales in Ireland to ensure water”.
We need to ban the use of MFAS in Irish waters, particularly around the west and north coasts where research has shown they are important habitats for beaked whales, similar to the moratorium in the Canary Islands in 2004 which UME stopped there.
Noaa: Beaked Whale Strandings In The Marianas May Be Associated With Sonar
Sign our petition to ban active military sonar in the Irish Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) here: https://my.uplift.ie/petitions/call-for-investigation-into-the-mass-stranding-of-beaked- whales in the…
© Ocean Research & Conservation Ireland (ORCireland) and www.orcireland.ie , est. 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this
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