Info: ATOC/Scientists test safety of unde (fwd)

Michael Williamson (
Mon, 19 Jan 1996 14:42:44

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Date: Fri, 19 Jan 1996 14:28:27 -0500 (EST)
From: Michael Williamson <>
Subject: Info: ATOC/Scientists test safety of unde (fwd)
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Date: Fri, 19 Jan 96 12:38:00 UTC 0000
Subject: Scientists test safety of unde
Scientists test safety of undersea sound experiment
    SAN FRANCISCO, Jan 17 (Reuter) - After several weeks of
testing a controversial experiment to measure global warming by
transmitting noises deep in the ocean, scientists said on
Wednesday they have so far found no change in animal behaviour.
     Under a plan proposed by scientists at the University of
California at San Diego's Scripps Institution of Oceanography,
the low-frequency sounds would be picked up by receivers located
around the Pacific Ocean, enabling them to detect long-term
changes in ocean temperatures since sound travels faster in
warmer water.
     After environmentalists voiced concern about the possible
effect of the noise on whales, dolphins and other marine
mammals, project scientists agreed to a preliminary study by
independent marine biologists to test whether the signals would
have any adverse impact on the animals.
     The researchers installed a loudspeaker deep in the Pacific
Ocean off the central California coast and began the preliminary
study in early December, occasionally broadcasting the
low-pitched rumbles at 185 and 195 decibels.
     The marine biologists, headed by Dan Costa of the University
of California at Santa Cruz, said on Wednesday that during the
first five transmission cycles from the loudspeaker, they had
observed no apparent changes in the behaviour of marine mammals
in the area.
     But they said in a statement that more data would have to be
collected and detailed analysis done before they could draw any
definitive conclusions.
     During each transmission cycle, which lasted from one to
four days, the sound source was turned on for 20 minutes every
four hours, the scientists said.
     The scientists said they had spotted large numbers of
whales, dolphins and other animals near the loudspeaker both
when the loudspeaker was on and when it was silent.
     Initial data from 14 elephant seals, each carrying a
satellite tag that tracks their position in the ocean, showed no
dramatic changes in their migration route from Alaska to
California waters, the scientists said.
     Some environmentalists had expressed concern that the noises
could affect animals' migration patterns.
     The loudspeaker is located 50 miles (80 kms) offshore from
Half Moon Bay and 3,200 ft (1,000 metres) under the ocean
     The first phase of the experiment to test the impact on
marine mammals will run at least through September 1996 when a
decision will be taken on whether to go ahead with the global
warming experiment, during which the loudspeaker will broadcast
more regularly.