October 13th, 2016. A WILDLIFE charity’s research vessel has set sail to survey marine mammals during a Nato military exercise currently taking place in the north of Scotland.
Joint Warrior is held twice a year and involves thousands of personnel and dozens of ships, submarines and aircraft.
Military sonar used during the exercises emits intense noise that can disturb and harm whales and dolphins, because they rely on sound for navigation, foraging and communication.
Naval sonar, more commonly linked to mass stranding events of deep diving whales, has also been associated with minke whale strandings in the Bahamas and in North Carolina.
The Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust (HWDT) research Silurian with its crew and a team of
volunteer observers, will be conducting visual and acoustic surveys during the military exercise.
The data collected will be used to determine any effects on the mammals’ behaviour.
Lauren Hartny-Mills, HWDTs science officer, said : “During previous surveys, which have coincided with the Joint Warrior exercises, HWDT has observed minke whales moving at high speed and leaping clear of the water, at the same time as military sonar was detected on the hydrophone, an underwater microphone. This behaviour is unusual here and is rarely seen in undisturbed whales.
“The long-term impact of such disturbances or exposure to sonar are largely unknown.” (Ed Sibylline : of course, it’s purposely not studied !)
During the exercise, the trust is asking people in the area to be vigilant and report any sightings of marine mammals in the area. (Ed Sibylline : difference between the range of a sonar system and human vision performance, please ?)
Joint Warrior runs until October 20.
You can report sightings on the HWDT website (www.hwdt.org) or call the office on 01688 302620.
Ed Sibylline : so, we can sleep quietly, they will kill salving their consciences