Sonar mapping killed whales: study

AFP-JIJI

A noisy technology that blasts high-frequency sounds below water to map the ocean for oil probably caused the deaths of 75 melon-headed whales off Madagascar, experts said Thursday.

An independent panel of scientists found that sonar surveying by ExxonMobil in late May 2008 led to the sudden displacement of around 100 whales, of which at least three-quarters died.

“This is the first known such marine mammal mass stranding event closely associated with relatively high frequency mapping sonar systems,” the experts said in a report released by the International Whaling Commission. “Earlier such events may have been undetected because detailed inquiries were not conducted.”