Experts analyzing the cause of deaths of 75 melon-headed whales off Madagascar have found that the disastrous event have occurred due to sonar mapping.
Sonar mapping is a noisy technology that blasts high-frequency sounds below water to map the ocean for oil.
According to the experts, sonar mapping has probably caused the deaths of 75 melon-headed whales off Madagascar in 2008.
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.
The report released by the International Whaling Commission, said, “This is the first known such marine mammal mass stranding event closely associated with relatively high frequency mapping sonar systems.”
Researchers blamed a high-power 12 kilohertz multibeam echosounder system, or MBES, operated by an ExxonMobil vessel on May 29 about 65 kilometres (40 miles) offshore from the first known stranding for the event.
“They used the multi-beam echo sounder first. That scared the animals into the lagoon and then the air guns were used afterward,” explained marine scientist Matt Huelsenbeck of the advocacy group Oceana.
“So that is not to say that air guns would not have caused it had they been used first. They are even louder than the multi-beam echo sounder.”