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Posted Mon Nov 8 2010: from New Scientist:
Whale mass strandings linked to hearing loss
In "one of the biggest mass deaths of cetaceans in Irish history" at least 33 whales have beached themselves on the north-west coast of County Donegal.... The whales' deaths come just after the latest research into cetacean strandings, which suggests that stranded whales and dolphins often suffer from hearing loss. The finding is the latest salvo in the long-running controversy over whether undersea noise pollution is harming whales. David Mann of the University of South Florida and colleagues looked at eight species of cetacean, all of which had either stranded themselves or become entangled in fishing gear. 4 out of 7 of the bottlenose dolphins they looked at, and 5 out of 14 rough-toothed dolphins, had either severe or profound hearing loss, as did one short-finned pilot whale.... "We do not know the noise exposure history of any of these [animals]. Based on the locations of stranding, it is possible that some of them have been exposed to chronic noise from boating and shipping, while for others this is unlikely."... Earlier this year, north Atlantic right whales were found to be calling more loudly to each other, apparently to compensate for the constant noise.
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