Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Military sonar can alter blue whale behavior: Human-made noises cause ocean giants to move away from feeding spots

Date:
July 3, 2013
Source:
Duke University
Summary:
Some blue whales off the coast of California change their behavior when exposed to the sort of underwater sounds used during US military exercises. The whales may alter diving behavior or temporarily avoid important feeding areas, according to new research.

Duke researcher Ari Friedlaender attaching a suction-cup tag to the back of a blue whale off the coast of southern California.
Credit: Courtesy of Ari Friedlaender; NMFS Permit 14534

Some blue whales off the coast of California change their behavior when exposed to the sort of underwater sounds used during U.S. military exercises. The whales may alter diving behavior or temporarily avoid important feeding areas, according to new research.

The Southern California Behavioral Response Study exposed tagged blue whales in the California Bight to simulated mid-frequency (3.5-4 kHz) sonar sounds significantly less intense than the military uses.

"Whales clearly respond in some conditions by modifying diving behavior and temporarily avoiding areas where sounds were produced,” said lead author Jeremy Goldbogen of Cascadia Research. "But overall the responses are complex and depend on a number of interacting factors," including whether the whales were feeding deep, shallow or not at all.

The study, funded by the U.S. Navy Chief of Naval Operations Environmental Readiness Division and the U.S. Office of Naval Research, appears July 3 in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

The scientists tagged the whales with non-invasive suction cups, which recorded acoustic data and high-resolution movements as the animals were exposed to the controlled sounds.

"The tag technology we use offers a unique glimpse into the underwater behavior of whales that otherwise would not be possible," said Ari Friedlaender, a research scientist at the Duke Marine Laboratory.a

The scientists found that some of the whales engaged in deep feeding stopped eating and either sped up or moved away from the source of the noise. Not all of the whales responded to the noise, and not all in the same way.

"Blue whales are the largest animals that have ever lived. Populations globally remain at a fraction of their former numbers prior to whaling, and they appear regularly off the southern California coast, where they feed," said John Calambokidis, one of the project’s lead investigators of Cascadia Research.

That area of the ocean is also the site of military training and testing exercises that involve loud mid-frequency sonar signals. Such sonar exercises have been associated with several unusual strandings of other marine mammal species (typically beaked whales) in the past. Until this study, almost no information was available about whether and how blue whales respond to sonar.

"These are the first direct measurements of individual responses for any baleen whale species to these kinds of mid-frequency sonar signals," said Brandon Southall, SOCAL-BRS chief scientist from SEA, Inc., and an adjunct researcher at both Duke and the University of California Santa Cruz. "These findings help us understand risks to these animals from human sound and inform timely conservation and management decisions."

A related paper published July 3 by the same research team in Biology Letters has shown clear and even stronger responses of Cuvier’s beaked whales to simulated mid-frequency sonar exposures. Beaked whales showed a variety of responses to both real, military sonar in the distance and nearby simulated sonar. What the beaked whales were doing at the time appeared to be a key factor affecting their reactions.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Duke University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. J. A. Goldbogen, B. L. Southall, S. L. DeRuiter, J. Calambokidis, A. S. Friedlaender, E. L. Hazen, E. A. Falcone, G. S. Schorr, A. Douglas, D. J. Moretti, C. Kyburg, M. F. McKenna, P. L. Tyack. Blue whales respond to simulated mid-frequency military sonar. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2013; 280 (1765): 20130657 DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2013.0657

Cite This Page:

Duke University. "Military sonar can alter blue whale behavior: Human-made noises cause ocean giants to move away from feeding spots." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 July 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130703120637.htm>.
Duke University. (2013, July 3). Military sonar can alter blue whale behavior: Human-made noises cause ocean giants to move away from feeding spots. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130703120637.htm
Duke University. "Military sonar can alter blue whale behavior: Human-made noises cause ocean giants to move away from feeding spots." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130703120637.htm (accessed September 22, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, September 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

AP (Sep. 20, 2014) — The San Diego Zoo has welcomed two Cheetah cubs to its Safari Park. The nearly three-week-old female cubs are being hand fed and are receiving around the clock care. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) — Considered a "national heritage" in Belgium, chocolate now has a new museum in Brussels. In a former chocolate factory, visitors to the permanent exhibition spaces, workshops and tastings can discover derivatives of the cocoa bean. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) — The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) — A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins