Beaked Whales and Acoustic Pingers

A new paper on beaked whale sensitivity to acoustic pingers has been published in Marine Mammal Science:

Carretta, J.V., J. Barlow, and L. Enriquez.  2008.  Acoustic pingers eliminate beaked whale bycatch in a gill net fishery.  Marine Mammal Science 24(4):956-961.

Results from a 17-year fishery observer program show that the observed bycatch of beaked whales was eliminated after the introduction of acoustic pingers and that bycatch of other cetacean species was reduced considerably.   The results have implications on the current debate about the effects of Navy sonar on beaked whales, which was highlighted most recently in U.S. Supreme Court proceedings.  The two main conclusions are 1) that beaked whales are much more sensitive to acoustic pingers (and perhaps other anthropogenic sounds) than other cetacean species and  2) this finding highlights recent concerns about potential threats that some sound sources (such as sonars) may pose to beaked whales.  The paper is available at the publications page of the EEZ Mammals and Acoustics Program website.