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Melon-Headed Whale Mass Stranding Linked to Sonar
By Angela Messina, September 28, 2013 @ 01:01 PM (EST)
Source: LiveScience

In 2008, 100 melon-headed whales became stranded in a shallow lagoon in northwest Madagascar. Toothed marine mammals like the melon-headed whale rarely leave the open ocean and scientists were baffled as to why so many were stranding in the same lagoon. An independent review of the strandings indicates that they were caused by sonar sound waves emitted from a vessel contracted by ExxonMobil.

The review panel examined many possible causes, including disease, toxins, vessel strikes, weather conditions, and unusual acoustic events, before concluding that it was most likely due to sonar.

They discovered that one day before the first whale stranding, ExxonMobil’s vessel began using an echosounder system to map the seafloor using sonar that is within the hearing range of the melon-headed whale. The panel concluded that the sonar mapping was the most “plausible and likely behavioral trigger for the animals initially entering the lagoon system."

ExxonMobil has disputed these findings.

Read more here.


 

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