Scientists Pinpoint Cause of Mysterious Whale Stranding

September 25, 2013

For the first time, a mass stranding of whales has been attributed to sonar mapping.

In 2008, approximately 100 melon-headed whales were stranded in the Loza Lagoon system in northwest Madagascar. With assistance from IFAW, WCS led an international team to help return live whales to the open sea and conduct necropsies on dead whales. After a thorough investigation, an independent review panel discovered the stranding was triggered by the noise produced by a multi-beam echosounder system (MBES).

Since this is the first time a stranding has been so closely connected to MBES, the discovery is cause for concern and gives insight into possible future problems. MBES are used frequently by the hydrocarbon industry as well as by military and research vessels.

Now that researchers have finished reviewing the stranding, industry, regulatory authorities, and other stakeholders can use the information to shape future conservation policies and to better protect marine life. The report will help conservationists consider the impact of human noise on marine mammals and find solutions that won’t cause the animals harm.

Read the Washington Post article>>

Read the report >>

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