Monday, November 28, 2005

Military sonar increases beaching of dolphins and whales

Military sonar is one of the causes of an increased incidence of beachings by whales and dolphins, according to a United Nations report.

The theory that sonar may be interfering with the animals has long been suspected by environmental groups, and has now received official recognition from the UN Environment Program.

The Australian Defence Department denied responsibility for the beaching of 110 pilot whales in Tasmania last month, while the navy was using sonar to search for a wrecked ship.

Noise pollution was mentioned in the UN report as one of the risks to whales, dolphins and porpoises, along with fishing nets, pollution and environmental degradation.

The report cited a beaching in the Canary Islands in 2002 when "high-intensity, low-frequency sonar" was being tested and the beached animals were found to have inner-ear damage and haemorrhages.

A mass stranding in the Ionian Sea was also linked to NATO testing of submarine-searching sonar in the area.

Quick "Facts about Dolphins"