underwater man-made sounds kill cetaceans

(C) Vidal Martin

During the past days two atypical mass strandings of Cuvier’s beaked whales occurred in the Ionian Sea (Mediterranean Sea) along the coast of Greece and Italy, respectively around the Island of Corfu and close to Capo Rizzuto. Totally, 5 animals stranded alive and died after washing ashore (see the following posts – 1 & 2 – previously published on this blog). The two events have generated deep concern among scientists and conservationists, who are sending letters to the Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans in the Black Sea Mediterranean Sea and Contigous Atlantic Area (ACCOBAMS)Secretariat to support their concern (see an example here – you are invited to do the same!) and to urge ACCOBAMS and the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS)- and other intergovernmental organizations that have adopted resolutions on ocean noise – to request relevant information from their member states..

Yesterday, on the website of the newspaper “Il Fatto Quotidiano” where Dr. Giuseppe Notarbartolo di Sciara runs a blog, the following post was published (sorry only in Italian, but you can check out Notarbartolo di Sciara’s personal website for an english translation) “I rumori dell’uomo che uccidono i cetacei” where the author explain how underwater man-made sounds can kill cetaceans and be deleterious to marine life in general. He also tells that during the past days, exactly when the two strandings occurred,  military exercises from the Italian Navy and geo-seismic prospections were carried out in the area.

So far the strict link from beaked whales mass strandings and sonar activity has been put in light clearly (see below).

Looking forward for updates on the situation.

Further reading:

Frantzis A. 1998. Does acoustic testing strand whales? Nature, 392:29.

Wright A.J., Aguilar Soto N., Baldwin A.L., Bateson M., Beale C.M., Clark C., Deak T., Edwards E.F., Fernández A., Godinho A., Hatch L., Kakuschke A., Lusseau D., Martineau D., Romero L.M., Weilgart L., Wintle B., Notarbartolo di Sciara G., Martin V. 2007. Anthropogenic noise as a stressor in animals: a multidisciplinary perspective. International Journal of Comparative Psychology 20(2-3):250-273.

Wright A.J., Aguilar Soto N., Baldwin A.L., Bateson M., Beale C.M., Clark C., Deak T., Edwards E.F., Fernández A., Godinho A., Hatch L., Kakuschke A., Lusseau D., Martineau D., Romero L.M., Weilgart L., Wintle B., Notarbartolo di Sciara G., Martin V. 2007. Do marine mammals experience stress related to anthropogenic noise? International Journal of Comparative Psychology 20(2-3):274-316.

Parsons E.C.M., Dolman S.J., Wright A.J., Rose N.A., Burns W.C.G. 2008. Navy sonar and cetaceans: just how much does the gun need to smoke before we act? Marine Pollution Bullettin  56(7):1248-1257.

Filadelfo R., Mintz J, Michlovich E., D’Amico A., Ketten D.R. 2009. Correlating military sonar use with beaked whale mass strandings: What do the historical data show? Aquatic Mammals 35(4):435-444.

Dolman S.J., Evans P.G.H., Notarbartolo di Sciara G., Frisch H. 2010. Active sonar, beaked whales & European regional policy. Marine Pollution Bulletin 63:27-34.  doi:10.1016/j.marpolbul.2010.03.034

Tyack P.L., Zimmer W.M.X., Moretti D., Southall B.L., Claridge D.E., et al. 2011 Beaked Whales Respond to Simulated and Actual Navy Sonar. PLoS ONE 6(3): e17009. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0017009

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2 thoughts on “underwater man-made sounds kill cetaceans

  1. Thank-you for calling the worlds attention to the introduction of sound that is killing so many cetaceans. The U.S. Navy was given a permit by NOAA to “take(kill) 11.7 million marine mammals over a 5 year period in order to play war game off of our coastline. Stranding’s have increased,many believe due to this activity.

    • Hi Kristen, underwater noise pollution is an issue of great concern but unfortunately when it comes to national security, military, navy and so on.. it seems that they can do what they like. And this is totally wrong and frustrating. I do not know about the numbers that you have posted in your comment so I can not actually further discuss on them but i wouldn’t be surprised. It is not the first time, and sadly not the last, that national governments bend over to let their military friends play!

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