Did Navy Sonar Kill Whales?

When in early February 2008 two Cuvier's beaked whales were stranded at Saligo and Machir Bay it wasn't known at the time what caused their death. There were a total of five Cuvier's beaked whale strandings on Scotland's west coast in the same time frame, two on Islay, one on Tiree, one on Mull and one on Lewis. Today the Independant newspaper writes in an article that scientists found the probable cause which is blamed to the use of Navy sonar. A quote from the Independant website:

The main suspect in the case is sonar, as it is known that beaked whales are highly sensitive to the powerful sound waves used by all the world's navies to locate underwater objects such as submarines. Groups of beaked whales have been killed, with sonar suspected as the direct cause, several times in recent years; well-documented incidents include anti-submarine exercises in Greece in 1996, the Bahamas in 2000 and the Canary Islands in 2002. In 2003, an American judge banned the US Navy from testing a new sonar after a court case brought by environmentalists to protect marine life.

Britain's Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society has now submitted a Freedom of Information request to the Ministry of Defence over the Hebridean strandings, with the aim of finding out if any Royal Navy activity coincided with the possible location and timing of the whales' deaths. So far, the MoD has provided no answers, but it is possible that other navies might have been involved.

Tag: whale stranding saligo machir

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