Large groups of whales have been washing to shore across the world – a mystery yet to be solved. Why are they disoriented? The italian marine biologist Antonella Servidio researches the theory that military sonar is responsible for the mass strandings. The search for answers brings the young scientist half-way around the world. The first part of the the documentary series explores how the shy animals live, communicate, and hunt. With the help of a complex tracking device, a whale is accompanied on his deep-sea hunt – the experience of which is reproduced in 3D computer animation. The inner workings of sonar, used on the military hunt for submarines, are also demonstrated and explored. The accusations against the Navy concretize, as evidence accumulates about the distressing effects the sonar frequencies have on whales.
A detective story
In 2002, more than 15 whales strand on the coast of Fuerteventuras. The natives quickly link the tragedy to the NATO sea exercise which had taken place in the middle of the night, in which 58 ships sought to detect 8 submarines. The use of sonar was clearly crucial for this exercise: the boats blast medium frequency sound waves through the ocean, the echos of which indicate the exact position of the sought-after submarines. The military denies culpability. Autopsies offer no clear results, but perhaps a clue: gas bubbles are found in the main organs of the dead animals. Are they the symptoms of an extreme diving sickness in the whales? Could it be that the acoustically-sensitive whales reacted aversely to the loud and persistent military sonar frequencies? Antonella Servidio attempts to collect all the current facts about the issue, knowledge which until now has remained within the confines of her colleagues laboratories. In the scottish submarine base Faslane she meets an sonar expert, who explains the refined technology of the military instruments. She then visits whale researcher Mark Johnson and his team, who have developed the technology to follow a sperm whale on a deep sea hunt. The results of their findings will help answer many of marine biologists open questions. The data collected by Mark Johnson will be animated in 3D and show for the first time how whales behave at such great depths. Antonella’s case against the use of military sonar is supported by these new images, but there remains many questions, and many statements to be confirmed. » online film – watch extended version (movie – 52 min) youtubeChannel_AnthroMedia123