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Images: Supreme Court Weighs in on Whales and Sonar

In 2000, 17 whales stranded on beaches in the Bahamas following U.S. Navy sonar exercises. Beaked whales appear to be especially sensitive to sonar. Hypothesized causes for the strandings include stress, disorientation, hearing loss, or disruption of foraging. The U.S. Navy has acknowledged that sonar may cause beaked whales to strand and is funding research to determine how sonar affects these whales. (Photo by Nan Hauser, The Center for Cetacean Research & Conservation)

Marine biologist Darlene Ketten researches the adaptations of aquatic vertebrates for hearing under water. She uses forensic techniques, biomedical images generated from CT (computerized tomography) scans, and biophysical models of hearing in humans and marine mammals. She is the director of the Computer Scanning and Imaging facility at Woods Hole Oceanograhic Institution. (photo by Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

WHOI biologist Peter Tyack studies social behavior and acoustic communication in whales and dolphins, and how human-caused noise affects them. He has helped develop non-invasive tags to record the behavior and sound environment of whales under water and is the director of the WHOI Marine Mammal Center. (Photo by Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

Digital tags recently developed at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution attach non-invasively to whales, then release after a few hours. After this beaked whale was tagged, the device recorded data about the animal's behavior and information about the surrounding ocean environment. The tags have increased scientists’ ability to learn how whales respond to sonar. The research was conducted under a permit issued by the Bahamas Department of Resources and under permit # 981-1707 issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service under the authority of the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
(Photo by Ari Friedlaender, Duke University)

A rarely seen Cuvier's beaked whale breaches off the island of El Hierro in the Canary Islands. In 2005, scientists and engineers from WHOI, University of La Laguna (Canary Islands) and University of Aarhus (Denmark) studied this population of whales to learn about their underwater behavior and how they reacted to sonar testing, which may make them vulnerable to stranding. See Pilot Whales—the Cheetahs of the Deep. (Photo by Natacha Aguilar, University of La Laguna, taken under permit from the Canary Islands Government)