Tag Archives: Acoustics

Sonar Haram

Does Military Sonar Kill Marine Wildlife?
From Scientific American, June 10, 2009

Dear EarthTalk: Is it true that military sonar exercises actually kill marine wildlife? — John Slocum, Newport, RI

Unfortunately for many whales, dolphins and other marine life, the use of underwater sonar (short for sound navigation and ranging) can lead to injury and even death. Sonar systems—first developed by the U.S. Navy to detect enemy submarines—generate slow-rolling sound waves topping out at around 235 decibels; the world’s loudest rock bands top out at only 130. These sound waves can travel for hundreds of miles under water, and can retain an intensity of 140 decibels as far as 300 miles from their source.

These rolling walls of noise are no doubt too much for some marine wildlife. While little is known about any direct physiological effects of sonar waves on marine species, evidence shows that whales will swim hundreds of miles, rapidly change their depth (sometime leading to bleeding from the eyes and ears), and even beach themselves to get away from the sounds of sonar. Continue reading

Zone Ear

whaleHow does sonar work?
From Science Wire

Sonar is simply making use of an echo. When an animal or machine makes a noise, it sends sound waves into the environment around it. Those waves bounce off nearby objects, and some of them reflect back to the object that made the noise. It’s those reflected sound waves that you hear when your voice echoes back to you from a canyon. Whales and specialized machines can use reflected waves to locate distant objects and sense their shape and movement.

The range of low-frequency sonar is remarkable. Dolphins and whales can tell the difference between objects as small as a BB pellet from 50 feet (15 meters) away, and they use sonar much more than sight to find their food, families, and direction. Continue reading

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