A recent study suggests that killer whales and other marine mammals are far more likely to pick up sonar signals than was previously thought.

Scientists have discovered that commercially available sonar systems, which are designed to create signals beyond the range of hearing of such animals, do in fact emit signals known to be within their hearing range.

The sound is likely very soft and audible only when the animals are within a few hundred meters of the source, say the authors of a new study. The signals would not cause any actual tissue damage, but it’s possible that they affect the behavior of some marine mammals, which rely heavily on sound to communicate, navigate, and find food.
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One of the most beautiful and haunting sounds on the planet, whale song is thought to have healing powers and is widely used for meditation and relaxation. Whales use sound to locate food and companions, and rely on their songs and hearing for navigation, orientation and communication. Marine mammal scientists from Vancouver Aquarium have therefore been concerned to note that killer whales who inhabit the coastal waters of British Columbia and Alaska have recently lost their collective voice.

The cetacean research team at the aquarium is headed by Dr. Lance Barrett-Lennard, who described how the normally loquacious creatures have been strangely quiet for the past two years, and how, consequently, they are now much more difficult to locate:
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Whales may sing in the shower, but when they poop, they drop huge turds which work with the ecology of the ocean, playing an enormous role in its nutrient and carbon cycles.

And as if there wasn’t enough trash ALREADY floating in our oceans, an undersea volcano near New Zealand has thrown up nearly 10,000 square miles of pumice onto the surface of the Pacific Ocean. This is almost 10 times as large as the state of Rhode Island. Pumice is a byproduct of lava that has cooled quickly after a volcanic eruption, and it’s so lightweight that it floats. read more

When oceanographer listened to the audio picked up by a recording device that spent a year in the icy waters off the east coast of Greenland, she was stunned at what she heard: whales singing a remarkable variety of songs nearly constantly for five wintertime months.

Only around 40 sightings of these whales, which were hunted almost to extinction, have been reported there since the 1970s. The fact that they’re singing again shows that, despite many horrible incidents, they’re happy again.
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