Scientists called for a broad ban on the use of sonar to protect whale populations after a study revealed a connection between military sound pulses and mass collisions in which dozens of mammals died.
Marine biologists have long warned that senses of creatures may be damaged by sonar, and unfamiliar sounds emanating from ships are confusing animals.
Experts say that mammals often try to swim away from the sound source, which leads to disorientation.
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For deep sea creatures such as a beak that was the focus of research, sonar can cause animals to rise too quickly, causing decompression sickness.
This, in turn, contributed to an increase in the number of whales dying in massive deaths.
Researchers at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria focused solely on beaks in the seas surrounding the Canary Islands.
They found that the ban on sonars introduced there in 2004 was effective in reducing the number of whales, and called for more places to prevent further deaths, including in the Mediterranean, where the beaks of whales are considered vulnerable.
“Animals can react to stressful situations by showing the“ run or fight ”reaction with an increase in heart rate and metabolism, often accompanied by rapid movement from a perceived stressor,” write the report published in Proceedings of the Royal Society magazine. "We recommend a moratorium on mid-range active sonar in those regions where atypical mass events continue."
Whale whales regularly dive deeper than one kilometer, longer than one hour, but when exposed to sonar, they can dive to a depth of more than three kilometers for more than two hours.
Peter Tiak, a professor of marine animal biology at the University of St. Andrews, said that sonar exposure "pushes some whales over the edge – some lose their ability to control gases under pressure, causing gas bubbles to injure or kill, and some beach and die" .
He said Independent: “The current policy does not protect the marine life in the UK. We need more effective monitoring of ocean noise combined with policies that reduce vulnerable species to acceptable limits. ”
Sonar was developed in the 1950s to locate submarines — and mass landing of beaks was rare until this point.
But in the period from 1960 to 2004, more than 100 mass strands were recorded, and the number of species affected by the beans increased.
In one case, shortly before the ban on the Canary Islands, fourteen whales landed during a NATO exercise using sonar.
Catania in 1985, 1988, 1989, 1991 and 2002 also coincided with naval exercises. Most recently, last summer, five whales died on the Irish coast as a result of an alleged sonar incident.
the detected beaks, which were usually not exposed to sonar, showed the most extreme behavioral and physiological reactions, while those living seas, where sonar was usually or never used, suffered the least.
Recent studies have shown that animals that are not accustomed to sonar sounds were at even greater risk than those who often experienced them.
Sarah Dolman, whale and dolphin conservation policy manager, who did not participate in the study, said that recent studies confirmed that the beaks were "very vulnerable" to military exercises.
She said Independent: “We have seen the likely consequences of hostilities on our own shores, including the recent massacre of more than 80 beaks of Cuvier from Ireland and Scotland. Experts say that this event could be so devastating that it could affect the whole pecked whale population, while nothing has changed.
"We can lose beaks all over the UK before we understand them."
The United Nations and other international organizations have warned that sonar is a serious threat to animals.
Previous studies have warned of the effects on basic biological functions — such as feeding and mating — of whales and other marine life, including dolphins.
In 2008, the Ministry of Defense acknowledged that the Royal Navy conducted operations near the Cornish coast, where 26 dolphins were killed, after having previously denied the presence of any ships in the area.
The Ministry of Defense stated that it was “extremely unlikely" that the animals died as a result of sonar, but most of the portems showed that they had no obvious signs of illness when they died after falling into a trap in four places on the Perkuil River.
Peter Evans from SeaWatch Foundation told Independent: “Kluviki will always be vulnerable to behavioral disturbances and physical damage from loud noises made by naval forces using mid-frequency active sonar. The ban on hostilities in local waters, introduced around the Canary Islands, somehow reduces the harm it can cause,
“However, there are many areas where naval maneuvers are taking place that may not receive such protection. Therefore, it is important that well-controlled locations are used for such routine exercises, and if beaks are also found there, appropriate mitigation measures are applied. ”
Travis Parker, researcher at the Museum of Natural History, who runs the British whale and dolphin breeding project, added: “Although I don’t think there will be a“ one size for all ”approach in reducing anthropogenic mass events, this is certainly an approach that deserves attention, given his success in reducing the number of these events in the Canary Islands.
"Unfortunately, for each species or even for each population, a slightly different strategy may be required, which makes it difficult to solve this problem."