Sonar use linked to whale strandings

Posted by Laura Grant on October 8, 2008
Posted in Conservation

Sonar is killing more whales than we realise, says a whale expert who has been tracking the patterns of mass whale strandings around the world for the past eight years.

In a paper entitled “Navy Sonar and Cetaceans: Just how much does the gun need to smoke before we act?”, Professor Chris Parsons of George Mason University in the United States strongly argues for stricter environmental policies related to the use of sonar in the US Navy. “We are increasingly finding if there is a beaked whale mass stranding, there is a military exercise in the area,” he says.

Parsons is a national delegate for the International Whaling Commission’s scientific and conservation committees, and on the board of directors of the marine section of the Society for Conservation Biology. He has been involved in whale and dolphin research for more than a decade in South Africa, India, China, the Caribbean and the United Kingdom.

He argues in his paper that the US navy could perform its exercises and affect less of the whale population if it had properly trained, experienced whale experts as lookouts – “not just someone who has watched a 45-minute DVD”, as is now the case. They also need to avoid sensitive areas completely, he says.

“Eventually the Navy may have to reconsider the use of certain types of sonar. Without strict mitigation, they could be wiping out entire populations of whales, and seriously depleting others.”

[Via: EurekaNet]


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