Subject: whales and sonar

Bete Jones (
Mon, 22 Nov 1999 11:24:55 -0800

>Date: Mon, 22 Nov 1999 11:24:28 -0800
>To: sshirley@DCD.PVT.K12.MA.US (Sue Shirley)
>From: Bete Jones <>
>Subject: whales and sonar
>In-Reply-To: <fc.000f8e8c0003c59d000f8e8c0003c59d.3c59f@DCD.PVT.K12.MA.US>
>At 01:49 PM 11/22/99 -0500, you wrote:
>>Thank you in advance for answering my fifth grade science students
>>questions about whales.  They are anxious for your reply!
>>From Stephanie and Maggie: What is the longest that a whale can stay
>>From Maddie D. and Emily: Does sonar affect a whale's ability to
>>From Tim and Nick: Do whales have good hearing?  What other animals do you
>>From George D. and Sarah: What kinds of water mammals do you try to
>>protect?  How?  Does sonar affect animals in any way?
>>Thank you, 
>>Sue Shirley
>>Dedham Country Day School 
>>Dedham, MA 
>Dear Sue,
>Here are the answers to your questions:
>Stephanie and Maggie - Some whales, like the sperm whale, bottlenose whale
can stay underwater for an hour or more.  The blue whale can stay submerged
for up to 30 minutes.
>Maddie D. and Emily - This is one of the questions scientists are still
trying to answer.  We are still unsure if human produced sonar affects
whales' ability to communicate
>Tim and Nick - Whales and other marine mammals have excellent hearing.
Hearing is as important to the survival of marine mammals in their
underwater environment as sight is to humans on land.  I have been studying
whales for the past three years, but I am now starting to study terrestrial
mammals and seabirds.
>George and Sarah - Marine mammals are protected by a federal law called
the Marine Mammal Protection Act.  This law tries to protect marine mammals
from human activities such as fishing and oil and gas exploration.  I try
to protect marine mammals by understanding the different ways they interact
with their environment and then try to figure out how to limit human
activities that can affect the way they function normally in their
environment.  Scientists are still trying to determine if sonar affects
marine mammals.  We are still unsure how and to what extent human produced
sound affects the ability of these animals to communicate, navigate, and
find prey.