The Various Effects of Sonar on Marine Life

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Sonar (SOund Navigation And Ranging) systems are those kinds of underwater devices or equipments that are used by countries for the purpose of detecting enemy submarines by producing slow rolling sound waves that reach up to the level of 235 decibels.  These sound waves have the capability of travelling under water for hundreds of miles.

While sonar may prove very useful for the navy wings of many nations, they may not particularly prove great for marine life.  The use of sonar has been linked to a widespread stranding of dolphins and whales around the world.  Sonar has been reported to trigger certain behavioral and psychological changes in underwater species and can lead to their death as well.  The following is some more information on the effects of sonar on marine life.

various effects of sonar on marine life

  • Ever since the technology has been introduced, the cases of mass stranding of marine animals on coasts and shores around the world has been on a rise.
  • There may not be any concrete evidence between marine animal killings and sonar but even the navy has accepted that sonar’s loud sounds can affect many species living under water.
  • What happens is that most mammals rely on sound for a large number of functions in life such as movement, foraging and even communication. Thus when a foreign sound which to too loud is introduced in the marine environment, it can interfere with the basic life and functions of the animals and may affect them in multiple ways.
  • As an example, whales that are exposed to sonar pings would stop swimming or feeding and they will swim away from the noise. Their swimming style would change from relaxed strokes to long and deep dives.
  • Through many research findings and other evidence, it was found that many marine animals would surface rapidly due to the noise and this made them vulnerable to decompression illness. When beaked whales dive deeper than usual due to the sonar pings, their lungs tend to collapse. This stops the infiltration of nitrogen in their blood and this in turn makes them vulnerable to the decompression sickness.
  • The beaked whales are reportedly the most affect species as far as mass stranding due to sonar noise is concerned. This could be due to the fact that these whales are the world’ deepest diving whales and are spotted at those depths where submarines are placed mostly.
  • A lot of whales confuse the sonar pings to the sounds made by killer whales and this too could be a reason that their behavior changed.
  • Sonar pings can also cause permanent injury and deafness among marine mammals and this is the violation of the National Environment Policy Act and several other acts.

A large number of environment lobbyists and groups are fighting for marine animals’ rights and trying to put a ban on navy sonar testing’s due to these above mentioned effects of it on these animals. Only with this ban can the negative effects on marine life stop.

Filed Under: Science & Technology

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