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NOAA science story tips -- AAAS 2008 edition
Date:2/14/2008

How Marine Mammals React to Underwater Sound
Connie Barclay, NOAA Fisheries, (301) 713-2370 x 144

NOAA Fisheries Service is looking at how marine mammals react to underwater sound. Increasing evidence suggests that exposure to intense underwater sound in some settings may cause certain marine mammals to strand and ultimately die. Some of these strandings are associated with mid-frequency active (MFA) military sonar, and most have involved beaked whales; the dominant species is Cuvier's beaked whale (Ziphius cavirostris), but the genus (Mesoplodon) has also been involved. The coincidence between certain atypical mass strandings and active sonar exercises is convincing, but insufficient information is available to assess whether other signals pose a similar risk, and whether other species may also be at risk. Until the causes of these strandings can be identified, and possibly dose- response relationships defined, it will remain difficult to discriminate an actual hazard from random coincidences of human activities and natural strandings.

A multi-phase field research project is underway to conduct Behavioral Response Studies of various underwater sounds to marine mammals (including beaked whales and other odontocetes). The overall goal of the study is to understand the initial steps in the chain of events that lead from sound exposure to atypical mass strandings of beaked whales; and to use that understanding to identify a safe response that can be used to indicate risk.


Why is the Arctic Melting So Fast?
Anatta, NOAA Research, (303) 497-6288

Greenhouse gases alone dont explain the rapid rate of Arctic ice melt. Computer models disagree on how long it will take for sea ice to vanish completely each summer. During April, NOAAs Earth System Research Laboratory will fly an off-duty Hurricane Hunter aircraft out of Fairbanks, Alaska, to observe the Arctic springtime. Scientists will analyze four factors
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Contact: Ben Sherman
ben.sherman@noaa.gov
202-253-5256
NOAA Headquarters
Source:Eurekalert

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