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Six Years Later, Canary Island Strandings Still Spur Questions

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The BBC has run a three-story series that reflects on the stranding deaths of six beaked whales during NATO sonar training exercises in late September 2002. Coming two years after a similar incident in the Bahamas during a US Navy sonar training exercise, the Canaries stranding cemented a growing concern about the potential for injury in the deep-diving beaked whale family. Studies that took place in nearby Las Palmas revealed the first clear evidence of tissue damage in the injured whales, and while scientists still are not certain of what sort of disruptions in the dive patterns may cause the injuries, this set of tissue lesions has become a “smoking gun” for sonar-induced injury.

Two images from the University of Las Palmas in Gran Canaria: heads ready for necropsies, and the tell-tale hemorrhaging and lesions caused by nitrogen bubbles expanding in tissues

The BBC pieces are all well worth a read. The first provides a good historical look at the impact of the 2002 strandings and the research that has taken place since then. The second addresses how little we still know about beaked whales, and the third is a diary of several days at sea on a beaked whale research trip. All three include video clips of interest. Sources: BBC, 9/28-30/08  [READ ARTICLE: STRANDINGS] [READ ARTICLE: BEAKED WHALES] [READ ARTICLE: RESEARCH DIARY]


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