Investigating sonar and whale strandings

TitleInvestigating sonar and whale strandings
Publication TypeMagazine Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsNevala, Amy, E.
Issue Number2
Date Published09/2009
Type of ArticleScientific
Keywordsacoustic trauma, anthropogenic noise, dolphin stranding, marine mammal hearing, marine mammal stranding, navy sonar, underwater noise, whale stranding

In 2000, several U.S. Navy destroyers used sonar in the Bahamas during routine training exercises. Within 36 hours, 17 animals—including 14 beaked whales, one of the world’s deepest-diving whale species—were found on three islands nearby.
Ten of the animals eventually refloated or were pushed back into the water, their fates unknown. The remaining seven died on the beach. Researchers examined the whales and found that they had died of heatstroke.
Speculation arose that the sonar had somehow disrupted their diving behavior or disturbed them and caused them to swim to shore. Some of the whales also had hemorrhages near their ears and in the fluid surrounding their brains, which may have affected their hearing.