Mysterious 'Ping' from Beneath Sea in Canada Nov 12, 2016 2:57:37 GMT -5
Post by Joanna on Nov 12, 2016 2:57:37 GMT -5
Canadian Military Investigates Strange Sound from Beneath the Sea
A mysterious noise seems to be coming from the bottom of the sea in Canada’s Nunavut Territory and local hunters are anxious, saying it’s been scaring the wildlife away. Described as a “ping,” “hum” or “beep,” the sound has been emanating from the Arctic for months and the locals have gotten so desperate, they’ve asked the military to get involved. An active investigation is now underway.
The sound reportedly comes from somewhere on the sea floor in the Hecla and Fury Strait – a narrow channel of water in Nunavut, which is the newest, largest and least populous territory of Canada, located up north, next to Greenland. In Nunavut, roughly 31,000 people – mostly Inuit – are spread over an area of approximately 1,082,000 square miles and the territory boasts the world’s northernmost permanently inhabited area in the world, a community named “Alert.” The Inuit traditionally hunt large mammals, such as seals, caribou and whales, and the Hecla and Fury Strait is usually a prime location because it is a polynya – an area of open water surrounded by ice, which serve as feeding grounds and overwintering havens for many mammal species.
But this all changed during the summer when locals started reporting that animals seem to have gone elsewhere this year right around the time people began to hear the noise. “That passage is a migratory route for bowhead whales and also bearded seals and ringed seals. There would be so many in that particular area,” local government official George Qulaut told CBC News. “This summer there was none.
“That’s one of the major hunting areas in the summer and winter because it’s a polynya,” added Paul Quassa, another official. “And this time around, this summer, there were hardly any. And this became a suspicious thing.”
As often happens when something mysterious is afoot and scientists haven’t had the chance to explain it, conspiracy theories abound. Some are blaming the Baffinland Iron Mines Corporation, which extracts iron ore on Baffin Island, to the northeast of Nunavut. Locals suspect the sound is coming from sonar surveys conducted by the mining company, but spokespersons have denied it has any equipment in the water at this time.
Others blame Greenpeace and suspect the organization has sneaked sonar devices into the channel to save wildlife from hunters. Greenpeace has also denied the allegations.
If the sound actually exists – and let’s be clear, researchers have not confirmed that it does – the major concern is that it’s harming wildlife. Unlike that strange, low-pitched sound researchers detected from the Caribbean Sea back in June, this noise doesn’t appear to be natural.
Earlier this year, a landmark ruling in California found that the low-frequency sonar systems used by the US Navy for training missions violate the Marine Mammal Protection Act because it negatively impacts whales, dolphins and walruses which rely on sound to navigate the seas. As director of the US National Resource Defense Council’s marine mammal project, Michael Jasny, told Wired, “It’s important to understand that the ocean is a world of sound, not sight.” And as a recent study found, certain species of fish appear to sing in chorus, from dawn to dusk, to call on mates, settle territorial disputes and locate food. A blaring signal from the sea floor – that is reportedly so strong, it can be heard through the hulls of boats – could be causing untold damage to these communication systems.
Canada’s Department of National Defense has opened an investigation. “The Department of National Defense has been informed of the strange noises emanating in the Fury and Hecla Strait area and the Canadian Armed Forces are taking the appropriate steps to actively investigate the situation,” a spokesperson told CBC News. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to get to the bottom of the mystery, because if there really is something down there that’s been ringing out through the channel for months, we need to put a stop to it now.”
Source: ScienceAlert, November 4, 2016.