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Military sonar disrupts whale feeding

An arrow rebounds after attaching a satellite tag to a Cuvier's beaked whaleErin Falcone / NMFS permit 16111

Scientists have recorded Cuvier's beaked whales changing their behavior in response to sonar use at a Naval base in California. It's the first long-term study of whale response to real-world sonar use.

Why it matters: Scientists have known for decades that military sonar use can cause mass strandings and even deaths in marine mammals. (The Navy has faced several lawsuits over their long-distance sonar use.) Although scientists have measured marine mammal's response to sonar in the past, those studies have only gathered data over a few hours and involved scientists using technology to mimic sonar. The research was published in the journal Royal Society Open Science.

"They dive down, putting vertical space between themselves and a sudden, debilitatingly loud sound," study author Erin Falcone, a marine biologist at the nonprofit Marine Ecology and Telemetry Research, tells Axios.