The Effect of Underwater Acoustics on Whales Essay

The Effect of Underwater Acoustics on Whales Essay

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The Effect of Underwater Acoustics on Whales


Whales utilize acoustic frequencies to communicate underwater. If the
whales are unable to communicate their bi-annual migration can become
perilous. Man-made low frequency sonarcan prevent whales from
producing soundand sometimes causes them to take alternate routes.
When the whales try to avoid the sonar they are in danger of running
ashore and perishing after being beached.

Introduction:

Twice a year, around the months of December and May, populations of
gray whales migrate from Mexico to Alaska. (Unknown1, 2002) During
this journey, they pass the state of California, where acoustical
pulses, generated by air guns or water guns, are used in seismic
surveys. If the seismic-generated sound waves exceed the "background"
noise or normal amount of noise, they could interfere with gray whale
communication or disturb behavior. (Unknown1, 2002) It is possible
that seismic surveys have a detrimental impact on marine life, such as
gray whales.

Whales are able to perceive sound in a wide range of frequencies from
75 Hz up to 150 Hz. In experimental conditions, where the
environment's level of noise is controlled, the whales are more
sensitive and hear from 10 Hz to 100 Hz. In addition, smaller whales
have a broader range from which they can hear from 10 up to 300Hz.
(Unknown2, 2002)

Whales depend on sound for communication, navigation, and even
detection of predators and prey. The seismic-generated sound waves may
disturb critical abilities. Disruption of any of their vital functions
can significantly disturb the fitness of whales. (Unknown3) There are
many factors that affect...


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Page 356

Malme, C.L Miles, P.R., Miller, G.W., Richardson, W.J., Roseneau,
D.G., Thomson, K.H., and Green, C.R., (1989) Analysis and ranking of
acoustic disturbance potential of petroleum industry activities and
other sources of noise in the environment of marine mammals in Alaska.
BBN Report 6945, OCS Study MMS 98-0006, Report from BBN Systems &
Technological Corporation, Cambridge, MA, for US Minerals Management
Service, Anchorage, AK, NTIS PB90-188673.

Richardson, W.J., Greene, C.R., Malme, C.I. and Thomson D.H., (1995)
Marine Mammals and Noise. Academic Press

Simmonds, M.P. and Hutchinson, J.D. (1996) the Conservation of Whales
and Dolphins. John Wiley & Sons

Sinkin, L. (2001) "U.S. Navy's Low Frequency Active Sonar Research
Exposed." [Online] Available. http://www.whales.org.au/news/tyack.html

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