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September 29, 2008 9:22 AM   Subscribe

Beaked Whales "might be the least understood group of large mammals on Earth". One thing is relatively certain, however: sonar appears to kill them.

Gory head shot [not squeamish-ist]
posted by chuckdarwin (30 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
"So long, and thanks for all the excruciating head-splitting noise."
posted by yhbc at 9:29 AM on September 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


It wasn't the sonar itself that killed them, it was the 24 hours a day of the Scatman John test pattern calculated to drive Russian submariners batshit insane.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 9:48 AM on September 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


This has been an issue tiptoed around for quite a while --

Environmentalists' fears are partly based on the Navy's deployment of a powerful mid-range sonar in March 2000 during a submarine detection exercise in the deep water canyons of the Bahamas.

At least 16 whales and two dolphins beached themselves on the islands of Abaco, Grand Bahama and North Eleuthera within hours, The Associated Press said.

Scientists found haemorrhaging around the brain and ear bones -- injuries consistent with exposure to loud sounds -- among eight dead whales.

posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:00 AM on September 29, 2008


Cell tower transmisions and GM crops are killing all the bees, and there isn't any adverse effects with that...
Why should we care?
posted by Balisong at 10:02 AM on September 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Fluke. But real.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:06 AM on September 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Pinging beakedwhaleresource.com [85.159.63.185] with 32 bytes of data:

</git_mode>
posted by mandal at 10:09 AM on September 29, 2008


I initially misread that as baked whales and, I'm ashamed to say, felt a distinct hunger pang.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 10:18 AM on September 29, 2008


I first read that as baked whale. bah. Need breakfast soon.
posted by special-k at 10:19 AM on September 29, 2008


Damn you le morte de bea arthur
posted by special-k at 10:19 AM on September 29, 2008


omg...also saw baked whales. where would you even get an oven big enough?
posted by sexyrobot at 10:25 AM on September 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Beaked Whales might be the most undercooked group of large mammals on Earth.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:27 AM on September 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


i reckon you could get two in here if you put in a shelf
posted by chelegonian at 10:31 AM on September 29, 2008


extremely powerful sonar : "They claim that sound bursts near a SURTASS LFA-equipped ship can register at upward of 215 decibels and persist at around 160 dbs hundreds of miles from the source. "
posted by garlic at 10:33 AM on September 29, 2008


Cell tower transmisions and GM crops are killing all the bees...

I heard it was SUVs and Wal-Marts.
posted by rocket88 at 10:35 AM on September 29, 2008


Damn, I really liked whales too. And bees.
posted by Mister_A at 10:43 AM on September 29, 2008


aurthur c clarke said when the bees start dying, we've got about 4 years left...maybe we should all take a second look at those ARMs...
posted by sexyrobot at 10:56 AM on September 29, 2008


How much pot does it take to get a whale baked? And how many Twinkies can a baked whale eat?
posted by cjorgensen at 11:01 AM on September 29, 2008


Thirding the Baked Whales wackyparse, but I just thought the whales are really mellow.
posted by ghost of a past number at 11:05 AM on September 29, 2008


Oh man, those poor whales! Yesterday I was wondering what it might be like to be a whale. Do they stare at the beach and wonder what the land is like? How is it to live your whole life in the ocean?

From the depths come ear an splitting sound that wails against the inside of your skull. Your head feels like it's going to burst. Disoriented, you rise to the surface as fast you as you can in an effort to escape the pain. The sound stops but the pressure in your brain remains. Your body starts to feel a deep, unrelenting ache.
posted by Mister Cheese at 11:06 AM on September 29, 2008


I'm agin the sonic blasting of whales, but the provided gory headshot doesn't appear to have anything to do with sonar.
posted by zamboni at 11:24 AM on September 29, 2008


From the depths come ear an splitting sound that wails against the inside of your skull. Your head feels like it's going to burst. Disoriented, you rise to the surface as fast you as you can in an effort to escape the pain. The sound stops but the pressure in your brain remains. Your body starts to feel a deep, unrelenting ache.

You've just described my work day.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:25 AM on September 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


but the provided gory headshot doesn't appear to have anything to do with sonar.

I just wanted people to see what one looks like... decent photos are hard to find.
posted by chuckdarwin at 11:35 AM on September 29, 2008


It's my understanding that powerful shipboard sonar can cause cavitation. That'll definitely ruin your day if you're in the water.
posted by ryanrs at 12:27 PM on September 29, 2008


We have been fighting military sonar use here in Hawai'i for years, just now seeing a settlement banning low frequency sonar within 57 miles of the islands.

It is a compromise ... (Hawai'i is probably the most 'militarized' state in the nation.)
Low-frequency sonar relies on extremely loud, low-frequency sound to detect submarines at great distances. The NRDC said the Navy's own studies show the system generates noise intense enough to significantly disrupt whale behavior more than 300 miles away.
And ... although there are over 16 protected whale species in Hawaiian waters, the fate of the Humpback whale is most discussed - probably because they are most visible when traveling here to mate and birth their young each year.

Sad.
posted by Surfurrus at 1:01 PM on September 29, 2008


I really hate how the military is basically going, "LALALALA THE WHALES ARE SAFE," when they're basically just keeling over and dying. I mean, you could at least say, "We don't have enough evidence and in the meantime this sonar keeps people safe," and then commission a study, sheesh.

On a note of random scientific curiosity ... how do scientists figure out that "deepest-diving living animal" thing? I mean it's not like we're down there to watch, and I'm having trouble imagining marine biologists tranqing and tagging a whale - plus the logistics of engineering a beacon to stand up to those depths seem pretty daunting to me. Is it stomach contents, perhaps?
posted by bettafish at 1:06 PM on September 29, 2008


They strapped a sensor to a few whales and got the data...
posted by chuckdarwin at 1:13 PM on September 29, 2008


I bet they're not so smug about leaving land now, huh? That's what you get for trading legs for flippers!
posted by blue_beetle at 3:15 PM on September 29, 2008


i read that as "BAKED whales".
posted by liza at 6:00 PM on September 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


Follow up article on the methods used to study beaked whales:
Hi-tech windows into a whale's world

posted by zamboni at 3:49 PM on October 1, 2008


Right Whales: On the brink, on the rebound

"What was it like to be in the water with a 45-foot, 70-ton animal?"
posted by homunculus at 1:41 PM on October 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


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