bubble curtains to save whales form ocean noise


(C) WDCS

Human activities, especially offshore oil and gas explorations, wind power structures and military exercises can confuse and harm even the mightiest denizens of the deep (see: turn down the volume in the oceansthe cuvier’s beaked whales saga; seismic surveys in the southern adriatic sea; underwater man-made sounds kill cetaceans; new atypical mass stranding of Cuvier’s beaked whales; new atypical mass stranding of Cuvier’s beaked whales – part 2Offshore wind farms may kill whalesOffshore wind farms may kill whales – part 2).

National Geographic in a recent article presents some new technologies that could potentially minimize and mitigate the impact of human activities on whales and other marine life.

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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