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New Study Calls For Ban On Sonar Use In Waters Vulnerable To Mass Whale Strandings

31st January 2019
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A Cuvier’s beaked whale surfacing in the Mediterranean, another region where they are considered vulnerable due to sonar activity A Cuvier’s beaked whale surfacing in the Mediterranean, another region where they are considered vulnerable due to sonar activity Photo: Wikimedia

#MarineWildlife - Spanish researchers have identified a link between a ban on the use of sonar in waters around the Canary Islands 15 years ago and a reduction in whale strandings in the same region.

The Independent reports on the study from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria that suggests vulnerable deep-diving species, such as beaked whales, respond to the stress of sonar pulses by fleeing to deeper waters — putting them at increased physical risk from the increases pressures below.

The scientists also recommend a ban on “mid-frequency active sonar” where mass strandings are prevalent.

Other experts have cited the findings as further evidence that seaborne military exercises using sonar as are direct threat to marine wildlife and in particular beaked whales — the subject of a devastating mass stranding across Scottish and Irish waters last year.

Tests on tissue samples from stranded beaked whale carcasses along the Scottish coast ruled out disease as a cause of death.

Britain's Royal Navy has denied its use of sonar is responsible for the “unusual mortality event” — regarding which the Irish State announced it would assist in investigations.

The Independent has much more on the latest findings HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife
MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy is a contributor covering all things on the water, from boating and wildlife to science and business

Marine Wildlife Around Ireland One of the greatest memories of any day spent boating around the Irish coast is an encounter with marine wildlife.  It's a thrill for young and old to witness seabirds, seals, dolphins and whales right there in their own habitat. As boaters fortunate enough to have experienced it will testify even spotting a distant dorsal fin can be the highlight of any day afloat.  Was that a porpoise? Was it a whale? No matter how brief the glimpse it's a privilege to share the seas with Irish marine wildlife.

Thanks to the location of our beautiful little island, perched in the North Atlantic Ocean there appears to be no shortage of marine life to observe.

From whales to dolphins, seals, sharks and other ocean animals this page documents the most interesting accounts of marine wildlife around our shores. We're keen to receive your observations, your photos, links and youtube clips.

Boaters have a unique perspective and all those who go afloat, from inshore kayaking to offshore yacht racing that what they encounter can be of real value to specialist organisations such as the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) who compile a list of sightings and strandings. The IWDG knowledge base has increased over the past 21 years thanks in part at least to the observations of sailors, anglers, kayakers and boaters.

Thanks to the IWDG work we now know we share the seas with dozens of species who also call Ireland home. Here's the current list: Atlantic white-sided dolphin, beluga whale, blue whale, bottlenose dolphin, common dolphin, Cuvier's beaked whale, false killer whale, fin whale, Gervais' beaked whale, harbour porpoise, humpback whale, killer whale, minke whale, northern bottlenose whale, northern right whale, pilot whale, pygmy sperm whale, Risso's dolphin, sei whale, Sowerby's beaked whale, sperm whale, striped dolphin, True's beaked whale and white-beaked dolphin.

But as impressive as the species list is the IWDG believe there are still gaps in our knowledge. Next time you are out on the ocean waves keep a sharp look out!

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