Whales Continue To Get Beached

Posted on May 22, 2017 by

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Underwater sonar is one of the most essential tools for the Navy. Marine animals rely heavily on sonar to communicate and to “see.”

In 2000, over a dozen marine mammals beached themselves within thirty-six hours of the U.S. Navy using sonar for routine training. Fourteen of the seventeen animals beached were deep-sea-diving beaked whales. These animals are known to be one of the world’s deepest diving whale species.

To escape the deafening noise that the Navy’s sonar made, the animals beached themselves. Only ten of the seventeen animals were re-floated. The remaining died on the beach. The most noticeable feature on the animals is that they had hemorrhages near and around their ears.  

This case is just one of the many notable occurrences  involving sonar and the effect it has on marine animals.

When sonar is released, marine animals have been known to do anything to get away from the sounds. Unfortunately, sonar can travel up to 300 miles from the original source. This results in animals beaching themselves, diving to dangerous depths, (which can result in bleeding of the ears and eyes),  and swimming hundreds of miles to escape the noise created by the Navy.

The US Navy has acknowledged the damage sonar can have on marine life. Studies have since been conducted on beached whales. Navy documents state that sonar testing will kill about 170,000 marine mammals, cause long term deafness for more than 8,000 others, and cause lifetime impairment to at least 500 whales.

Many activist groups have filed cases against the U.S. Navy. Once reaching the Supreme Court, however, the jury ruled that the navy should be allowed to continue with sonar.

Sonar is not the only factor that causes mass beaching. The sound of air guns searching for oil are detrimental to the survival of marine mammals. These blasts are fired every 10 to 15 seconds up to twenty-four hours a day.

Commercial ships drown out all noises that surround it. Sea mammals rely heavily on their sonar to find food and communicate. Studies have shown that over 60,000 commercial ships travel the world’s oceans at any given time.  This forces the animals to be silent.

“There are no noise-cancelling headphones to stop the U.S. Navy’s 235-decibel pressure waves of unbearable pinging and metallic shrieking. At 200 Db, the vibrations can rupture your lungs, and above 210 Db, the lethal noise can bore straight through your brain until it hemorrhages that delicate tissue. If you’re not deaf after this devastating sonar blast, you’re dead,” the Huffington Post writes.

Posted in: Morgan Althouse