Recently in California and Hawaii, the Navy is being made to limit their use of high=powered sonar. The reason? Negative affects on marine mammals. Conservation groups arguing for the protection of several endangered species of whales, dolphins, seals, and sea lions, argued that the sonar damages hearing in the mammals, as well as causing other injuries. The Navy stated in its case that the limits on sonar use would negatively impact warfare readiness. Conservation won out in this case, the Navy’s appeal being denied. So, no more deaf dolphins. For now.
But this also begs the question of how this sonar might impact other marine life. Obviously with our familial relation to mammals, we have more sympathy for damage caused to them. However, in the water sound becomes a powerful weapon, as well as a tool. It is, quite literally, a wave of force that moves through the ocean – as force, could it kill or injure fish or other marine animals? Or even plants?
This reminded me of the Mythbusters episode where they shoot fish in a barrel, and it’s found that the bullet doesn’t necessarily have to hit the fish – the blast generated by a 9mm in a barrel generates enough force to kill it. Also in this episode, it was estimated that 8.15 PSI is enough to kill a fish. But how much does high-powered sonar generate? I thought I would check it out. While I did find some information of past harms, there was not the specific kind of data I was looking for. Ah well. Evidently my brain is fried for researching today.
Another thought – due to the intense sonar readings taken in the enclosed Loch Ness, could those very readings be the cause of ‘the death of Nessie‘, rather than global warming?