Saturday, August 22, 2009

I know!

One of the six television channels I get without cable shows documentaries on various wildlife on Saturdays (thus the musings on elephants last week). Today's was on whales stranding themselves on shore, and trying to figure out why they would embark on this suicidal mission.

The theory in some situations was that, best as they can tell, sonar testing by the navies of the world drive whales to flee the water, possibly to avoid whatever the sonar is doing to their insides. The documentary had footage of a pod of dolphins and a pod of whales frantically avoiding an ship that was known to be testing sonar, heading like a tidal wave towards the shore. The heads of two of the whales who actually did beach themselves were given a CT scan, and the brains were shown to be damaged. They note that this did not prove the direction of the causation (did the sonar damage the brain thus preventing the whale from recognizing it was heading to the beach, or did the fury of the retreat and subsequent trauma of the beaching cause the brain damage?), but the navy did agree that their test negatively affected the whales and began to consult reports on pod locations prior to sonar tests.

That is a good start -- but I have the answer. Whales and other ocean creatures use sonar to find food, right? And this sonar doesn't drive everyone else in the ocean mad, so obviously the danger lies in man-made sonar. And these creatures know what sonar is their's and what is some other pods' or species', right? So navies need to approximate whale sonar for their own use. Figure out how to create it, and figure out how to read it (This second part should be easy. Sonar is just sending out a sound and tracking its rate and angle of return. The type of sound that is sent out and returned shouldn't matter). And this won't even confuse or bother other ocean creatures because they'll just come to learn that this particular sonar is that of the pod/species known as human.

Why has no one else thought of this? I guess because no one else is as brilliant as me.

(I also made a decision while watching this documentary, seeing volunteers hold stranded whales in the water to regain their strength. When my niece, who wants to be a marine biologist, is 16 years old, I'm going to find a volunteer-work project on marine life somewhere, and I'm going to convince my brother and sister-in-law to allow me to kidnap her for a week or two so we can go make a difference for some lucky creature together ... which gives me a few years to find a job and save up the money for this)

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