The use of underwater SONAR for many whales, dolphins and other marine life could lead to several injuries, or even death. The SONAR system was developed by U.S. Navy to detect enemy submarines. These generate slow sound waves which are emitted at 235 decibels. This is a huge value. This can be verified from the fact that even the world’s loudest band could record a sound of 130 decibels. The emitted sound waves could travel around 300 miles from source of origin and retain an intensity of about 140 decibels (Parsons, Dolman, Wright, Rose, & Burns, 2008).
These sounds are very high for much of the marine life. It has been evident from many observations that due to this SONAR, whales which swim hundreds of miles, may change their depth rapidly, which causes bleeding from eyes and ears. They may also beach themselves away to stay away from SONAR sound (Tyack, 2008).
In January 2005, around 34 whales, all of different species, stranded and died. This happened along North Carolina’s Outer Banks while offshore Navy SONAR training. The NRDC, had campaigned vigorously to ban the use of this technology. In 2003, the organisation filed a lawsuit against the Navy. It was later supported by IFAW, League for Coastal Protection, Cetacean Society International and Ocean Futures Society. It was claimed that testing done by Navy caused 170,000 deaths of marine animals. More than 500 whales had a permanent injury and 8000 had a temporary deafness. It was claimed that this act was a violation of the National Environmental Policy Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act (Aguilar de Soto, et al., 2016).
Aguilar de Soto, N., Gkikopoulou, K., Hooker, S., Isojunno, S., Johnson, M., Miller, P., . . . Harris, D. (2016, July). From physiology to policy: A review of physiological noise effects on marine fauna with implications for mitigation. Proceedings of Meetings on Acoustics 4ENAL, 27(1), 040008.
Parsons, E. C., Dolman, S. J., Wright, A. J., Rose, N. A., & Burns, W. C. (2008). Navy sonar and cetaceans: Just how much does the gun need to smoke before we act? Marine Pollution Bulletin, 56(7), 1248-1257.
Tyack, P. L. (2008). Implications for marine mammals of large-scale changes in the marine acoustic environment. Journal of Mammalogy, 89(3), 549-558.