Sonars and Strandings: Are Beaked Whales the Aquatic Acoustic Canary

TitleSonars and Strandings: Are Beaked Whales the Aquatic Acoustic Canary
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsKetten, D. R.
JournalAcoustics Today
Start Page45
Date Published08/2014
Type of ArticleScientific
Keywordsacoustics, anthropogenic noise, aquatic acoustic canary, beaching, beaked whalke, blainville's beaked whale, bubbles, cuvier's beaked whale, dcd, frequency, lfa, mfa, navy sonar, ocean noise, sonar, sound, stranding, underwater noise, underwater sound, whale strandings, ziphius

On the morning of 15 March, 2000, phones began ringing in Washington, Virginia, and Massachusetts. Emails flew between the USA and the Bahamas. The event behind these communications was a mass stranding of beaked whales (Ziphiidae) in the northern Bahamas extending from Grand Bahama to the tip of Abaco (Evans and England, 2001). Over two days, 17 whales were reported on shore, of which nearly half succumbed to the stress and trauma of stranding. Four years earlier, in 1996, 12 overtly healthy Cuvier’s beaked whales (Ziphius cavirostris) beached and died near ship based trials of mid and low frequency sonars in Kyparissiakos Gulf, off the Peloponnesian coast of Greece. It soon became evident that the Bahamian stranding, like the one in Greece, coincided with naval sonar exercises in nearby waters immediately prior to the beachings of these normally elusive, deep diving, deep water whales.