New Report Blames Sonar for Mass Marine Mammal Stranding

Written by on September 26, 2013 in Marine Life, Whales & Dolphins

Daily Summary

Global study reveals new hotspots of fish biodiversity
Tropical coral reefs have long been thought to be the areas with the greatest biodiversity for fishes and other marine life. A new study reveals that when measured by other factors, hotspots of fish biodiversity can be found in many other places, suggesting that conservation efforts could be focused in the wrong areas. In this study, researchers focused on the importance of the species instead of just the number of species in an area. The researchers note that this is a more important factor because each species plays a specific role that can’t often be filled any other species. These findings have important implications for management and will hopefully improve global efforts to conserve marine biodiversity. To learn more, check out this post from BBC: Scientists warn of ocean conservation in wrong areas.

Offshore Oil Exploration Linked to 50 Percent Reduction in Cod Catch
The debate on the effects of seismic oil exploration centers primarily on marine mammals, but a study reveals that fish are just as vulnerable to the deafening noise. The study focused on cod populations in a region where Norwegian fishermen have fished for centuries. The study showed that the use of seismic airguns caused up to 70 percent of fish to disappear immediately. Those fish did not return over the five day period following exposure to the sound. The research found that the biggest fish were most likely to leave and that the impact extended for 18 nautical miles from the source of the noise. To learn more about seismic airgun testing, check out this post: What Are Seismic Airguns and Why Should We Care?

Whale Mass Stranding Attributed to Sonar Mapping For First Time
An independent scientific review panel has concluded that sonar was the primary cause of the 2008 mass stranding of about 100 melon-headed whales in Madagascar. According to the final report, multi-beam echosounder system (MBES) operated by a survey vessel contracted by ExxonMobil Exploration and Production (Northern Madagascar) Limited the day before the stranding is the most “plausible and likely behavioral trigger” for the incident. This is the first known marine mammal mass stranding event to be closely associated with high-frequency mapping sonar systems. MBES is one of the tools used for seismic exploration – quieter than seismic airgun blasts, but used at a much higher frequency. Learn more here: Seismic Blasts Killed Melon-Headed Whales in Madagascar.

A group of melon-headed whales.

A group of melon-headed whales. Photo credit: NMFS, Marie Hill.

Copyright © 2013 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .


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