The silence of the whales

Several months ago, nearly 200 pilot whales stranded on the coast of New Zealand and more than half of the animals died. After all, the approximately 500 workers rescued about 60 of these marine mammals.

Help by sonar ban

After a sonar ban, using underwater acoustic wave devices near by the Canaries is prohibited for naval vessels since several years. This sonar ban has meant that since it arrived there no mass stranding of whales.

Nine years ago, the use of sonar in naval maneuvers off the Canary Islands has been prohibited. This ban is a great success for the Spanish animal rights activists because there has been no mass stranding of whales since then. This success means that the Canary Islands are considered a model for the protection of marine fauna and especially the marine mammals worldwide, according to the head of the Institute of Animal Health at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (ULPGC), Antonio Fernández.

Spain as a model country

Only Spain has responded to the recommendation by the European Parliament in 2004 and banned naval exercises with the use of sonar equipment, which send sound waves under water, for the marine area around the archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean off the west coast of North Africa, Fernández continues. It had been shown by now that that had been the right decision. With the release of its results, scientists hope that other countries will follow this example.
Disturbance of the diving behavior by Sonar

In the years 2002 and 2004, shortly before the ban on the use of sonar, 18 whales died after mass stranding at the Canary Islands. At that time, it was found out that just before the mass extinction war maneuvers took place north of the Canary Islands. These maneuvers were triggered explosions in the medium frequency range with sonar equipment, a method that is used for tracking down enemy submarines. “Whales are very sensitive to the sonar equipment. Today we know that the animals panicked and their diving behavior was disturbed,” said Fernández. The whales suffering could be compared to the decompression sickness.

Silence Please!

The increasing noise in the oceans leads to an even bigger disturbance of whales. Because they communicate with sounds underwater and use tones to navigation and hunting. Noise caused by humans, as arises at seismic studies, construction projects under the water, but also with military sonar, disturbs the whales. Let us hope that the study of Fernández at least leads to ab ban of the use of sonar in other countries, and the noise level for the whales (and dolphins) decreases slightly.

Whales in Costa Rica

Mostly it is humpback whales that can be seen in Costa Rica near the coast. In the summer, they live in the polar seas and dragging it in the winter to the tropical waters to Central America. They reach a height of 12 to 15 meters. The weight is between 25 to 30 tons. Since 1966, they are under worldwide protection of species. Normally, the whales come to Costa Rica in November and go back in April. However, by climate change and changes in ocean currents, we have already seen them in our dolphin sightings at other times.

If you want to see these majestic animals in real life, you can take part in whale and dolphin watching excursions.


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