Animal behaviour

Whales hear the noise

Journal name:
Nature
Volume:
500,
Page:
505
Date published:
DOI:
doi:10.1038/500505e
Published online

Highly read on rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org in July

Simulated military sonar can cause blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus) to stop eating and swim away.

Jeremy Goldbogen at Cascadia Research Collective in Olympia, Washington, and Brandon Southall at Southall Environmental Associates in Aptos, California, and their colleagues attached sensors to 17 blue whales off southern California. The team tracked the animals before, during and after playing sonar-like sounds or white noise from a research vessel. Whales at the surface typically did not respond, but whales at depth often showed behaviours such as swimming faster or ceasing to feed.

Human-produced noises could keep baleen whales from foraging and so affect their fitness, the authors say.

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Proc. R. Soc. B 280, 20130657 (2013)

Additional data