The Effect Of Sonar On Whales

1019 words - 5 pages

Modern advancements have aided our generation and will help many to come. They brighten our rooms, power our cars, and cure our diseases. They seem to be revolutionary and make us wonder how we ever managed to live without them, but are modern advancements actually that good? There is an expression, to take the bad with the good, but what if the bad out weighs the good? Sonar is imperative to navigation, location, and observation, but it also is a danger to marine life, more specifically whales. It can confuse, injure or even kill whales, its unsafe to be using these types of devices. This is an issue because whales play a vital role in the food web and affect an estimated ...view middle of the document...

Active sonar can reach speeds of 5,000 ft./s (Encyclopedia of Science and Technology). Passive sonar just listens to the sound waves given off naturally by marine mammals. This type is generally used to detect things that use active sonar, like submarines and other vessels. Active sonar is the dangerous type because it puts high-energy frequencies into the environment.
Whales are highly complicated marine mammals that are crucial to the success of their ecosystem. They are known to communicate, develop relationships and show problem solving abilities. Though their most advanced ability is to use echolocation to hunt for food. Echolocation is when the whale produces a beam of short bursts of sound, or clicking sounds, and projects it at a target. This beam is focused by a part of the whales’ brain called the melon. The whale then waits for the sounds to bounce off the target and return back to it. Depending on how long this takes and other data the whale gathers from the sound waves, it can determine the speed and direction the target is moving, in addition it can also judge the distance from itself to the target. This is similar to the way bats use echolocation. This talent is also used in communicating with the whales pod, or group, and “see” the world around them. Consequently, when artificial sound waves are produced in an area full of whales, it could seriously confuse and spark sudden behavioral changes in the whales.
Effects of Sonar on Whales
“There is no question that sonar injures and kills whales and dolphins,” says Joel Reynolds, NRDC senior attorney (National Resources Defense Council). Sonars are extremely concentrated forms of echolocation. To whales they sound louder than jet engines taking off every time a wave hits them, the sonar waves are so powerful that they can travel for hundreds of miles away from the sender. It is estimated that sonic waves three hundred miles away fro m the...

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