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Deepwater Whale Strandings Are 'Unusual Mortality Event' – But Sonar Not Confirmed As Culprit

25th February 2015
Deepwater Whale Strandings Are 'Unusual Mortality Event' – But Sonar Not Confirmed As Culprit

#MarineWildlife - The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) has issued a joint statement with fellow marine wildlife conservation groups on what's been labelled as "an unusual mortality event" involving Cuvier's beaked whales in Scotland and Ireland.

Last month, scientists in Scotland said they were baffled by the "unusually large number" of strandings of the deep-water whale species, rarely seen because they feed so far below the surface.

More recently, the Sunday World reported on further strandings on beaches around Ireland – leading some experts to point the finger at the suspected use of sonar in the British navy's alleged search for a rogue Russian submarine at the end of last year.

The joint statement says there are "many case studies from the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and Mediterranean Sea where mass strandings of this species were linked to exercised using military sonar.

"Furthermore, a controlled exposure experiment has demonstrated prolonged reactions by some beaked whale species to navy sonar."

However, only anecdotal evidence of any naval sonar activity in the affected areas exists, and the Naval Service has told The Irish Times that it had no knowledge of any such activity over that period.

Similarly, the Department of Energy said no seismic surveys had been conducted offshore since October, and that any such surveys – a significant source of underwater noise that can be harmful to cetaceans – must comply with National Parks and Wildlife Service Guidelines.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

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