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The mystery behind why beaked whales are 'suicidal' may have finally been solved.
Sonar commonly used by America and NATO has been revealed to cause decompression sickness, also known as the bends.
Condition - Divers - Condition - Whales
This condition is also known to affect scuba divers and it is believed the condition forces the whales to beach themselves.
Scientists had previously made the link between beached whales and exposure to naval sonar but research has now found the reason why.
Fear - Stress - Animals - Overrides - Diving
The fear and stress from the animals when they hear sonar overrides their natural diving instinct and creates a build up of nitrogen in the blood, leading to the bends.
In humans this occurs when a diver ascends to the surface too quickly but in whales, it is initiated by fear.
Whales - Days - Research - Finds
Whales that suffer from this can often die and wash up on a beach several days later, research finds.
Mid-frequency active sonar (MFAS) has been used since the 1960s to detect submarines. They emit underwater signals in a range of about 5 kilohertz (kHz).
Whales - Whales - Sound - Pattern
This is causing whales, in particular beaked whales, to become scared and swim away from the sound, throwing off their dive pattern.
The fear and stress response, overrides the diving response, which creates a build up of nitrogen in the blood - which is what happens to scuba divers when they get decompression sickness.
Whales - Cuvier - Species - 'suicidal - Whales
This causes beaked whales, specifically the Cuvier species, to beach. Previously, these were reported as 'suicidal' whales.
Through millions of year of evolution, whales have transformed into diving experts capable of plunging miles below the surface foraging for food.
Whales - Hours - Time - Surface
Whales are often able to submerge themselves for hours at a time before needing to return to the surface.
They have trained themselves to slow down their heart rate and restrict blood flow, which conserves oxygen.
But in the...
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