Whales Are Diving Deeper and Longer When Exposed to Sonar, Which Could Trigger ‘The Bends’

A combined team of researchers from Marine Ecology and Telemetry Research and the U.S. Navy’s Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division has found evidence of whales diving deeper and longer than normal when exposed to sonar from submarines and helicopters.

In their paper published in the journal Royal Society Open Science, the group describes their study, which included tagging whales and monitoring their behavior when exposed to artificial sonar signals.

In recent years, some groups have suggested that an apparent increase in the numbers of whales beaching themselves is due to exposure to mid-frequency active sonar (MFAS), but it has remained unclear how such an association could result in whales beaching themselves. More recently, researchers found that many whales stranded on beaches had gas bubble-associated lesions and fat emboli that were similar in nature to those seen in human divers that submerge too long or surface too rapidly. This led the researchers to consider the possibility that the whales have been beaching themselves due to decompression sickness, aka “the bends.”

Photo: Dan Shapiro/NOAA/Wikimedia Commons (CC0)

To view the Creative Commons license for the image, click here.

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Comments
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gurk86
gurk86

ohh whales are an important entity of sea

brigitte-perreault
brigitte-perreault

Editor

Makes me sad to read this... we are endangering so many species and they are suffering. I hope there is a fast solution to this particular issue!

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