Friday, 26 June 2015

Royal Navy bomb explosions caused mass whale deaths, report concludes

Noise from underwater bombs caused 19 pilot whales to beach and die off the coast of Scotland in 2011, say government scientists


Wednesday 24 June 2015 14.09 BSTLast modified on Wednesday 24 June 201514.12 BST

Four large bombs exploded underwater by the Royal Navy were to blame for a mass stranding which killed 19 pilot whales on the north coast of Scotland in 2011, government scientists have concluded.

A long-delayed report released on Wednesday by the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs says that the noise from the explosions could have damaged the hearing and navigational abilities of the whales, causing them to beach and die.

On 22 July 2011, 70 long-finned pilot whales swam into the Kyle of Durness, a shallow tidal inlet east of Cape Wrath, Europe’s largest live bombing range. Despite attempts to herd them back out to sea, 39 were left stranded by the tide.

Concerted efforts by expert teams and local people managed to refloat 20, but 19 ended up dead. It was one of the largest mass strandings in recent years, and it prompted a government-funded investigation by 12 scientists from laboratories across the UK.

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