Featured Image Credit: Deb Price
By: Sarah Sharkey
Although scientists hypothesized that some whales would beach themselves to die after long exposure to naval sonar, the true reason behind the death was always a mystery. The whales had to endure long noises for extended periods of time, but why was it worth dying over?
Recent research has shown why these whales are beaching themselves after prolonged sonar exposure.
Apparently, the whales get decompression sickness and die. It is shocking to think that a whale could get decompression sickness like a human diver. However, scientists believe that the sonar is causing the whales to panic and return to the surface too quickly.
Imagine if you were hunting in the dark depths of the ocean when suddenly a sonar alarm sounds. Of course, your natural reaction is to shoot to the surface immediately. On the way up, whales are unable to decompress appropriately because they are moving too fast.
The sickness is extremely painful and usually end in death, so the mass strandings seem more understandable now.
Atypical mass strandings were first recorded in the 1950s. Many of these mass suicides were in close proximity to naval sonar activity. Some species seem more susceptible to the stranding than others but the presence of sonar could be harmful to all whales.
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