NOAA's Fisheries Service, in partnership with top international scientists and the U.S. Navy, has just completed a pioneering research effort in Hawaii to measure the biology and behavior of some of the most poorly understood whales on Earth. During the study, for the first time, scientists attached listening and movement sensors on marine mammals around realistic military operations.
|NOAA scientists use tags to photograph and identify individual whales.
Using satellite-linked and underwater listening tags to monitor movement and behavior, NOAA and partnering scientists tagged more than thirty individual marine mammals of four different species. They measured how deep-diving marine mammals feed, interact with one another, dive and respond to sounds in their environment in this pioneering pilot project carried out in conjunction with the Navy's Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2008 exercises.
Scientists used the naval military exercises, hosted biennially by the U.S. Pacific Fleet, as an opportunity to learn more about deep-diving whales and how they might respond to military sonar in their environment. RIMPAC includes the use of mid-frequency active sonar for anti-submarine warfare training in various areas around Hawaii. Transmissions were not directed at marine mammals for the study. Scientists and the Navy used mitigation measures to minimize exposure to nearby mammals.