Underwater boom box


  • M. Catherine White


So far, there is no evidence that humpback whales are negatively affected by noise emitted from underwater speakers that may one day be used to measure warming in the oceans. A group of independent biologists from Cornell University monitored the behavior of the whales before, during, and after a scaled-down version of the controversial Acoustic Thermometry of Ocean Climate (ATOC) experiment off the coast of Hawaii. In 84 trials from February through March, they “saw no overt response from the whales.” Previous observations of similar sound transmissions at California's Pioneer Seamount, the other site planned for the experiment, also found no sign of disturbance among marine mammals, including elephant seals and several whale species. More observations are needed, however, before the experiment can be deemed safe, the Cornell biologists advised.