Thursday, September 01, 2005

Submarines At Fault or Will Gas Prices Rise?

Post card art above is based on an original 1903 print appearing in Le Petit Journal, a leading illustrated news magazine published in France from 1891 until WWII. The card depicts submarine officers (the old geezers in dark suits) shooting porpoises in the Mediterranean Sea, as sailors gaff the wounded alongside. Porpoises have been a European delicacy since at least medieval times.

The catch would have been deliciously prepared by a sousmarin sous chef. Today the species is protected, as are submarine secrets.

Although used routinely by many marine mammals, sonars were not yet used by navies.

Fast forward 102 years. After some 70 dolphins beached in the Florida Keys last April, a U.S. Navy submarine that had operated mid- and high-frequency sonars in the vicinity came under civilian suspicion.

To help solve the riddle of beachings, research is being conducted by Auditory Physiologist / Bio-Acoustician Jonathan Lovell. He has created a system enabling underwater hearing tests to be carried out on any animal thought to be affected by noise pollution. We can now provide evidence that even shrimp are potentially vulnerable to sonar, says Lovell.

Loud noises from low frequency active (LFA) sonar used by the military to detect submarines, or from airgun arrays used during geological surveys of the seafloor by the petroleum industry may be responsible for the stranded species. If the latter, expect gas prices to rise!


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