Of the Ears of Whales


Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

Whales are awe-inspiring creatures. When I was a kid, they used to bring in the whale carcasses to the rendering plant not far from my dad’s house, and a couple times I got to watch them winch the huge sperm whales from the catcher boats. A small kid next to an enormous whale with a giant toothy jaw agape … I stood astonished. They sliced them open. I was a cattle-ranch-raised kid of the free-range variety, so I’d seen lots of innards … but never anything of the scale and size of whale entrails. Zowie, my eyes bugged out when I saw that. Overwhelming.

And I was lucky enough once to have a big humpback whale surface totally unexpectedly right next to our small 27’ (8 metre) commercial fishing sailboat when a shipmate and I were negotiating a narrow shallow channel between an offshore rock and the coast … twenty feet (six metres) of water under the keel and the whale was much longer than that, it was longer than the boat. Who expects a giant whale right next to the land in such shallow water? It sounded like a wave breaking right next to the boat. I assure you, it was terrifying, an experience capable of loosening a man’s bowels most remarkably. And as it slid by, I saw its enormous, ancient eye, surrounded by wrinkles. Not a black round primordial eye like the eyes of sharks, but the eye of a warm-blooded kinsman. I was left quite shaken.

Being a great fan of these great creatures, I was watching a Nature documentary on humpback whales the other day. They were showing the whales hunting with their “bubble screens”, and how they used powerfully loud sounds to herd the anchovies into a tight ball. They said the whale clicks were about 200 decibels … extremely loud, in other words.

What brought this to mind was an article entitled “Are Wind Turbines Killing Whales?“. The article claims that recent mass whale beachings in Europe might be from wind turbines, saying:

As scientists have pointed out, “It is likely that acoustic masking by anthropogenic sounds is having an increasingly prevalent impact on animals’ access to acoustic information that is essential for communication and other important activities, such as navigation and prey/predator detection.”

“Blinded” by this masking, whales and dolphins could seek refuge in shallow waters, away from big ships and killer whales. There, low tides could surprise them, as large pelagic species have limited experience with tidal flows.

In September 2012, 19 pilot whales, a minke whale and a large sei whale beached on the coast of Scotland opposite an area where air guns were being used by ships surveying the ocean floor, as a prelude to installing offshore wind farms. “A second pod of 24 pilot whales was spotted in shallow water by Cellardyke around the same time, but [it] returned to sea without beaching,” the article noted.

Offshore turbines were also associated with “many” stillborn baby seals washing up onshore near the UK’s Scroby Sands wind farm in June 2005. “It’s hard not to conclude the wind farm is responsible,” the author concluded.

Many more similar deaths may well have been caused by wind farms at sea. The scientific and environmental literature abounds in warnings about risks to marine mammals from man-made noise.

Let me start with what is perhaps the earliest observation of mass whale strandings, that of Aristotle in the 4th century in his Historia Animalium:

“It is not known for what reason they run themselves aground on dry land; at all events it is said that they do so at times, and for no obvious reason.”

So we have reports of mass strandings of whales since forever. Now, I’ve read claims before about how the sounds from seismic prospecting or from sonar were (or were not) causing damage to the whales, and speculations that freighters made enough noise to interfere with them … but not wind turbines. So I thought I’d go see what I could find about noise in the ocean. Here’s the best of what I found:

ambient and localized noise oceanFigure 1. Noise sources in the ocean. “LFAS” is low frequency active sonar, of the type discussed below. SOURCE: Noise and Cetaceans

Fascinating. Now, from that, the humpbacks are only putting out about 150 decibels of noise, and blue whales are at about 175 decibels … but further research supports the existence of stronger noises from hunting whales, viz (emphasis mine):

The researchers played recorded ultrasound whale clicks to several long-finned squid (Loligo pealeii) swimming in a water tank. This species of squid grows to about a foot long and is commonly found off the coast of the northeastern United States.

The ultrasound clicks were broadcast at up to 226 decibels, which is about the most intense whale echolocation click a squid would be exposed to in the wild. If the clicks were at a frequency humans could hear, they would be as loud as a rifle shot heard from three feet in front of the muzzle.

“That would shatter our eardrums. It’s a deafening sound to an animal that can perceive it,” Hanlon told LiveScience.

But not only were the squid not knocked senseless, they did not react at all to the ultrasound bursts, and actually swam in front of the speaker as if nothing were happening.

“That’s like a Bose commercial where you’re sitting there and your hair is straight back because the sound is blasting out,” Hanlon said. “That to us was a stunning result. We did the experiment several times over because we could hardly believe it ourselves.”

Hmmm …

I find other studies putting the intensity of the humpback hunting sounds in the same strength range, at somewhere around 200 decibels …

So a humpback whale is a creature that hunts right next to other humpbacks, all of which are making noise at around 200-225 decibels right in each others’ ears. Stow that thought away for a moment.

Now, can marine mammals be damaged by loud noise? Sure, just like terrestrial mammals. However, there is much dispute about how much sound it takes. It’s very hard to study, because we have reports of mass whale strandings stretching from Aristotle to last years stranding of 337 ! whales in Patagonia. Makes it hard to tell the natural strandings from the anthropogenic ones … sound familiar?

The only really well-documented analysis I’ve found of the question occurred after a mass stranding of five different species of toothed whales in the Bahamas. The Navy was testing multiple high-powered sonars. These were nominal 235 decibel sonars, plus a short blast that was an unknown (classified) amount larger, used in an inshore channel which appears to have focused the effects of the sonar through “surface ducting”, where the sound is trapped in a shallow layer. The report of the ensuing investigation is a fascinating document. The Executive Summary says (emphasis mine):

Based on the way in which the strandings coincided with ongoing naval activity involving tactical mid-range frequency sonar use in terms of both time and geography, the nature of the physiological effects experienced by the dead animals, and the absence of any other acoustic sources, the investigation team concludes that tactical mid-range frequency sonars aboard U.S. Navy ships that were in use during the sonar exercise in question were the most plausible source of this acoustic or impulse trauma.

This sound source was active in a complex environment that included the presence of a strong surface duct, unusual underwater bathymetry, intensive active use of multiple sonar units over an extended period of time, a constricted channel with limited egress, and the presence of beaked whales that appear to be sensitive to the frequencies produced by these sonars. 

The investigation team concludes that the cause of this stranding event was the confluence of the Navy tactical mid-range frequency sonar and the contributory factors noted above acting together. Combinations of factors different from this one may be more or less likely to cause strandings. Research should focus on identifying problematic combinations so they can be avoided. The actual mechanisms by which these sonar sounds could have caused animals to strand, or their tissues to be damaged, have not yet been revealed, but research is under way.

So under certain specialized conditions with multiple high-powered sonars operating over an extended period in confined waters, including one interval at a strength so high it is classified, we have seen evidence of damage.

But those are specialized circumstances, and the ocean is a noisy place. One of the first things you notice when you start scuba diving is just how much noise there is down there. And there are loud noises as well—lightning strikes are very common on the ocean, and they put out broadband noise at 200 dB … and some of the whales themselves are cranking out 200 dB noise, not thousands of meters away, but right next to each other.

So it seems doubtful to me that the sound of freighters or the thwop-thwop-thwop of some dang wind turbine would be enough to drive a whale goofy by damaging their hearing.

However, the authors of the article postulate a second possiblity. They say that perhaps the sound of the wind turbines is masking other sounds:

“Blinded” by this masking, whales and dolphins could seek refuge in shallow waters, away from big ships and killer whales. There, low tides could surprise them, as large pelagic species have limited experience with tidal flows.

This seems very doubtful for several reasons. First off, the wind turbines are inshore, in the shallows. So if the thwop-thwop sound is making it hard for the whales to hear, they would move offshore away from the turbines, not inshore as their theory claims.

Next, any whale who thinks they can escape a killer whale by going inshore needs to go back to the whale school. Killer whales not only go into shallow waters and spend weeks or months there. They are also known to drive themselves right up onto the beach to capture seals.

killer whale on beach

Sometimes I think that there ought to be a law that you have to have crossed an ocean by boat before you are allowed to write about sea … but I digress. As you can see, the best authors do not recommend staying inshore as a way to avoid killer whale attacks …

Next, I don’t buy that mass strandings occur because “large pelagic species have limited experience with tidal flows”. Most whale species involved in mass strandings spend at least part of their time in near-shore waters. In fact, in many mass strandings, when people have pushed the whales back out to sea, they have turned right around and beached themselves again—and that obviously has nothing to do with the tide.

Finally, at this point the offshore wind turbines have been there for some years. If they were a whale trap, surely we’d have seen some strandings before now.

At the end of the day, in most instances, the cause of most instances of whales stranding themselves on shorelines around the planet remains a mystery. And it seems like this stranding near the wind turbines is in the same situation of having an unknown origin, because it can’t plausibly be laid at the feet of the wind turbines themselves.

Unless perhaps this time the whales are beaching themselves in a grand cetacean Gandhi-style non-violent protest against the turbines, a final tragic attempt to encourage humans to get rid of those expensive subsidy-sucking machines marring the lovely surface of the sea.

And don’t even get me started on the ongoing slaughter of marine birds by offshore wind turbines …

Regards to all,

w.

My Usual Request: Misunderstandings are the bane of the internet. If you disagree with me or anyone, please quote the exact words you disagree with. I can defend my own words. I cannot defend someone else’s interpretation of some unidentified words of mine.

My Other Request: If you think that e.g. I’m using the wrong method on the wrong dataset, please educate me and others by demonstrating the proper use of the right method on the right dataset. Simply claiming I’m wrong doesn’t advance the discussion.

162 thoughts on “Of the Ears of Whales

    • Thanks, AJB, haven’t seen it, I’ll take a look. In the meantime, there’s some recordings from seven miles underwater here.

      w.

    • OK, AJB, I took a look. It’s an interesting theory, but it’s short on evidence.

      I didn’t read it all, I got to where I couldn’t take any more of his COLORED CAPITAL LETTERS and absolute statements and conspiracy theories … but that doesn’t mean he’s wrong.

      w.

      • Yep, that’s pretty much the impression I was left with. Nice sound tracks BTW, thanks for that.

      • You say, “In fact, in many mass strandings, when people have pushed the whales back out to sea, they have turned right around and beached themselves again—and that obviously has nothing to do with the tide.”

        You are mistaken. Let me start by saying that whales mass beach for one simple reason; they have lost their acoustic sense of direction due most often to sinus barotrauma. Without a sense a direction, a lost pod of whales will be turned by drag forces and pointed downstream into the path of least resistance. In other words, a lost pod of whales will always swim with the flow of the surface currents as directed by the tidal flow and/or the wind-driven currents or a combination of the two. Thus, your statement that when freed, whales often return to the beach has nothing to do with tidal flow is 100% incorrect. The return to the beach after being push off has everything to do with the incoming tidal flow and/or wind-driven surface currents. I suggest you read: http://deafwhale.blogspot.com/2014/12/navigation-failure-in-mass-stranded.html

        By the way, I have 52 years of ocean going experience and have been obsessed with solving the centuries-old mystery of why whales strand since 1964. If you struggle through my capital letters and use of highlighting, you will see all the evidence you need. And, there’s plenty more if you wish to see it.

        Capt. David Williams

      • Willis,

        Strange that you seem to challenge my work because you don’t like the way I write. That’s like throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

        Let me clear up a few things for you. My hypothesis says that pressure waves from undersea earthquakes and volcanic explosions cause sinus barotrauma in pods of diving whales. The injury disable their acoustic navigation and causes them to swim blindly into the sand. What’s wrong with that idea? Do you have any evidence that says it’s not true? I should point out that in the chart in your article above, the loudest source of undersea noise just happens to be undersea earthquakes and volcanic explosions.

        You also dismiss my work because you suggest I promote conspiracy theories. Why not read the real reason why the US Navy covers-up why whales strand: http://www.deafwhale.com

        You can also read how and undersea earthquake sank the nuclear submarine USS Scorpion and why the US Navy wants to keep the seaquake danger out of the public domain. http://deafwhale.com/uss-scorpion/

        You also say that whales emit 200 db signals right next to each other. This is misleading since it makes no mention of the manner in which whales hear. Whales hear via their lower jaw, If a sound is too loud, they can simply turn away from the source. They are also well aware of the acoustic weapon they possess and would never use it in an irresponsible way.

        I might add that I have read many fictional articles written with fancy words in a most tasteful style that have no resemblance whatsoever to the truth. In other words, smooth as silk but still garbage.

      • Capt. David Williams March 9, 2016 at 6:36 pm

        Willis,

        Strange that you seem to challenge my work because you don’t like the way I write. That’s like throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

        Thanks, Cap’n. I didn’t challenge your work. In fact I specifically said my dislike of the writing style does NOT mean that it is wrong. What I said was that I got to where the combination of lack of evidence and absolute statements and the writing style was just too much for me. I’m sorry, but colored capital letters to me are a sure sign of the SIF, the “single issue fanatic”. And I think you would agree that your obsession with whales, while it is certainly beneficial, borders on the fanatical …

        Let me clear up a few things for you. My hypothesis says that pressure waves from undersea earthquakes and volcanic explosions cause sinus barotrauma in pods of diving whales. The injury disable their acoustic navigation and causes them to swim blindly into the sand. What’s wrong with that idea? Do you have any evidence that says it’s not true? I should point out that in the chart in your article above, the loudest source of undersea noise just happens to be undersea earthquakes and volcanic explosions.

        Amigo, the question is not whether I have evidence or not. It is whether you have evidence or not … studies such as this one specifically looked for sinus barotrauma (among other things) and didn’t find it.

        You also dismiss my work because you suggest I promote conspiracy theories. Why not read the real reason why the US Navy covers-up why whales strand: http://www.deafwhale.com

        You can also read how and undersea earthquake sank the nuclear submarine USS Scorpion and why the US Navy wants to keep the seaquake danger out of the public domain. http://deafwhale.com/uss-scorpion/

        Cap’n, nobody knows why the Scorpion sank. Not the US Navy, not me, and not you. There are a bunch of theories out there. You have your own sea-bag full of theories, but not one observation to support your claims. It’s all speculation. Which inter alia is why I said your work is “short on evidence”. And as for the conspiracy theories, yes, you are definitely promoting them. What tipped me off was quite subtle, it was when you said:

        Whale scientists are doing nothing to save our whales from acoustic assault! Instead, they are conspiring TO COVER-UP THE REAL CAUSE OF BEACHINGS! Such scientific misconduct needs to become a worldwide scandal; otherwise, we can kiss our whales goodbye!

        Curse those dastardly conspiratorial whale scientists!! They are all centrally directed from “Whale Control”, the ultra-secret lair of the conspiracy, which is located in a hollowed-out volcano in Antarctica …

        You also say that whales emit 200 db signals right next to each other. This is misleading since it makes no mention of the manner in which whales hear. Whales hear via their lower jaw, If a sound is too loud, they can simply turn away from the source.

        You spend all that time trying to convince me that sound deafens and damages whales, but when I point out that they vocalize right next to each other, suddenly they are able to protect themselves by merely turning their bodies …

        They are also well aware of the acoustic weapon they possess and would never use it in an irresponsible way.

        Call me crazy, but I doubt greatly whether whales bother too much with the concept of “responsible use of a weapon” …

        Anyhow, I’m sure your ardor for the whales will not be diminished by my comments, and that’s a good thing. Animals need champions who overcome opposition and adversity, and you are clearly such a one.

        However, you’ll excuse me if I don’t join the crusade. Too little evidence, too many CAPITAL LETTERS for me. Again, doesn’t mean it’s wrong … just that it’s not for me.

        Best regards,

        w.

      • Willis, you write great sarcastical prose, but your reasoning is only surface deep. For example, you accept that sonar killed the beaked whales in the Bahamas just because scientists said so. Let me muddy the water a little. Beaked whales have the most fantastic acoustic abilities of any animal our planet has ever know or ever will know. They can probably hear a humpback whale fart from a thousand miles away. So tell me, what motivated these acoustic experts to swim towards the navy sonar and get themselves killed? Why didn’t they swim away from the noise?

        Here’s some question for you:
        1. Why do whales strand on sand 95% of the time and not rocks or mud flats?
        2. Why do some whales swim back to the beach when release and others swim to deeper water?
        3. Where do odontoceti whales find the most squid?
        4. Why would sperm whales enter the North Sea where there are no giant squid, their favorite food?
        5. Why do odontoceti feed mostly at night and rest during the day?
        6. Why are all mass stranded whales super dehydrated and have no fresh food in their stomachs?
        7. Do odontoceti whales drink salt water?

        YOU’LL FIND A LOT OF ANSWER HERE: http://deafwhale.com

        When it comes to why whales strand, you simply have no knowledge. You mistakenly believe the BS that whale scientists feed you, but you don’t know if it is true or not.

        I think you should stick to sarcasm, something you seemed to have mastered.

        Capt. David Williams

      • Capt. David Williams gives a link to a page which claims to know the true cause of the sinking of the USS Scorpion submarine. Too much conspiracy theory for me. However the USS Scorpion case is very interesting in the context of sound travel in the oceans because it was found by listening to tapes of ocean sounds from vast distances away and calculating where to search from that. The idea was dismissed by the Navy’s experts, who had failed to find the sub, but eventually they did look there and they did find it. The story is told in the book “Blind Man’s Bluff: The Untold Story of American Submarine Espionage”, which is a great read. See also:
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Scorpion_%28SSN-589%29

  1. Willis makes a very good point, that whales couldn’t be too easily damaged by sounds if they make so much of it themselves. But this is a very complex issue. I have been in the water while a whale was singing, very close by, and I can tell it was one of the loudest sounds I ever heard. Frequency matters a lot. Ultrasonic sound has much different effects than audio or infrasonic. Acoustic impedance of the target makes all the difference, and varies with frequency. Probably the reason squid could ignore the sound is they are acoustically transparent in that part of the spectrum. If you clap your hands once per second, are you making a 1 Hz sound, or high frequency? Both. Many of the sounds whales make have this character, multiple frequencies. I have a friend that is an expert in whale behavior regarding sound. Much of the impact of man made sound is not that it is damaging, but interfering with other sounds of interest. Sometimes the effects are simply that it scares them and they try to avoid it, by surfacing too fast. However, some man made sounds ARE damaging, because they have a lot of energy at frequencies that move a lot of tissue. Air guns would be a good example. I have permanent hearing loss from a very similar type sound.
    It is good to keep in mind that whales communicate with sound over very long distances, so hearing is vitally important to them. A seemingly small impact can have major effects for them. I have listened underwater with hydrophones to whales from very far away, many miles, and the sound of a small boat 3 miles away completely drowns it out. It even drowns out the nearby singers.

    • Indeed. I’m not arguing that sounds do not affect whales. I’m saying I doubt the wind turbines make the whales beach themselves.

      w.

      • I doubt there’s any way to be sure about whales and wind turbines short of discussing the matter with a cetecean. But I’d find the stranding argument a lot more persuasive if whales alter their migration patters to avoid (or visit) the turbines. I did check the internet to see if altered whale migration patterns is currently a big deal in marine biology circles. I found the inevitable plethora of speculative crap about how climate change will kill all the whales within days if we don’t change our evil ways. I didn’t find anything that sounded serious and well substantiated.

      • Willis, you need to learn a few things. You need to be made aware that sound waves, regardless of frequency, travel underwater as a series of positive and negative pressure changes above and below the surrounding water pressure. Intense higher frequencies (+2,000 hz) easily damages the cochlea, On the other hand, intense low frequencies (0.5 hz and 100 hz) mainly damage the cranial air spaces. In dealing with LF sounds, there are scores of other factors to consider beside the decibel level. The following are just a few: (1) distances from the sound source, (2) depth of the water, (3) orientation of whales, (4) temperature of the hydrospace, and (5) many more factors.

        You also need to know that the air in the sinuses serve to reflect, focus, and channel all returning echo-location clicks. Thus, both a cochlea injury and a sinus injury will disable the normally excellent acoustic sense of direction in odontoceti.

        You also need to know which way a pod of whales would swim in case their biosonar system was disabled. You smart man. It should be easy for you to understand that whales with no sense of direction will always swim downstream in the path of least drag. It’s the only way any object, dead or alive, will travel in the open ocean. You should also be smart of to know that the currents guiding lost whales (dead or alive) is the same energy that carries sand to build beaches. These means that the odds are extremely high that lost whales wash into to sand. That it is is called “whale beachings” is practical proof that beached whales have no acoustic sense of direction when they swim into the sand. More proof is offered by the FACT that any successful refloat of beached whales must be done with the tidal currents are flowing offshore. If released when the water in washing ashore, the whales just turn around and come back to the beach.

        I could go on for days showing you how little you really know about whale strandings. You know practically nothing because this is what the US Navy and oil Industry want you know. You also need to learn how to read scientific papers about whales stranding. You can tell when whale scientists are blowing smoke up your butt by looking for the qualifiers such as, may, maybe, likely, some scientists believe, possible, could, might, and a dozen other words that should not ever appear in the scientific paper. How can write science by qualify all your statements.

        If you want to know why they lie, read http://deafwhale.com

        Capt David Williams, Chairman
        The Deafwhale Society, the oldest whale conservation group in the world!

      • Capt. David Williams March 11, 2016 at 7:11 pm

        Willis, you need to learn a few things.

        Dear heavens, what an unpleasant way to begin a communication. In any case, there are literally hundreds of things I need to learn … but if this is any example, I doubt whether your teaching methods get much acceptance anywhere.

        You need to be made aware that sound waves, regardless of frequency, travel underwater as a series of positive and negative pressure changes above and below the surrounding water pressure.

        See, this is the difficultly when you start in with your patronizing pabulum … I know that about sound waves and I have known it for half a century. Go find someone who doesn’t know that to bless with your infinite wisdom.

        Intense higher frequencies (+2,000 hz) easily damages the cochlea, On the other hand, intense low frequencies (0.5 hz and 100 hz) mainly damage the cranial air spaces.

        Cap’n, I fear that your unsupported word is worthless here. I would love to see a citation regarding damage to whale cochlea from infrasound. I have never found anything, but the world is a big place.

        In dealing with LF sounds, there are scores of other factors to consider beside the decibel level. The following are just a few: (1) distances from the sound source, (2) depth of the water, (3) orientation of whales, (4) temperature of the hydrospace, and (5) many more factors.

        You mean that the further you are from the sound, the weaker it is? Gosh, Cap’n, I would never have known that without your brilliant guidance …

        You also need to know that the air in the sinuses serve to reflect, focus, and channel all returning echo-location clicks. Thus, both a cochlea injury and a sinus injury will disable the normally excellent acoustic sense of direction in odontoceti.

        Again, citation? Look, Cap’n, you may be a font of very useful info, and I’m willing to learn from anyone … but your word alone is far, far from enough to convince me. Come back with some citations to real science, not links to your website, and I’m all ears.

        You also need to know which way a pod of whales would swim in case their biosonar system was disabled. You smart man. It should be easy for you to understand that whales with no sense of direction will always swim downstream in the path of least drag. It’s the only way any object, dead or alive, will travel in the open ocean.

        Swim downstream “in the path of least drag”? That’s as dumb as a bag of ball bearings. The drag on a whale is IDENTICAL no matter whether it is swimming up-current or down-current. You may be a whale genius, but you are clueless about drag …

        And your claim that living creatures only and always travel down-current in the open ocean? That doesn’t even pass the laugh test. Millions of ocean creatures spend their lives traveling upcurrent … what kind of Captain are you to not know that?

        You should also be smart of to know that the currents guiding lost whales (dead or alive) is the same energy that carries sand to build beaches. These means that the odds are extremely high that lost whales wash into to sand. That it is is called “whale beachings” is practical proof that beached whales have no acoustic sense of direction when they swim into the sand.

        Currents guiding dead whales? What are you talking about?

        And no, the odds are not great that a dead or dying whale will end up on shore. Thousands and thousands of whales die every year, and very, very few of them end up on shore.

        More proof is offered by the FACT that any successful refloat of beached whales must be done with the tidal currents are flowing offshore. If released when the water in washing ashore, the whales just turn around and come back to the beach.

        Say what? Citation? I don’t believe that FACT for one minute. Actually, my general observation is that most folks who claim that what they are saying is a CAPITAL-LETTER FACT are very concerned that what they are saying is not a fact …

        It’s the old Shakespearian rule of thumb, “The lady doth protest too much, methinks” …

        I could go on for days showing you how little you really know about whale strandings. You know practically nothing because this is what the US Navy and oil Industry want you know. You also need to learn how to read scientific papers about whales stranding. You can tell when whale scientists are blowing smoke up your butt by looking for the qualifiers such as, may, maybe, likely, some scientists believe, possible, could, might, and a dozen other words that should not ever appear in the scientific paper.

        I’m sure that you could go on for days. I’ll pass, thanks.

        How can write science by qualify all your statements.

        Good question. And for that matter, how can write nonsense by qualify all your statements?

        If you want to know why they lie, read http://deafwhale.com

        I told you. I tried. I couldn’t stand the combination of uncited, unsupported absolute statements, and the colored CAPITAL LETTERS.

        Capt David Williams, Chairman
        The Deafwhale Society, the oldest whale conservation group in the world!

        The oldest? Oh, please, that’s just more braggadocio. Near as I can tell the Deafwhale Society was founded by you in Florida in 2000 and is no longer active … go figure.

        There were a host of people and groups working on whale conservation long before that. Why do you think the IWC exists? And for NGOs, I find things like the following

        For several years leading up to September, 1977, the environmental organization, Project Jonah, campaigned against whaling in Australia by lobbying, raising public awareness and increasing domestic pressure on the Australian government to close down the last whaling station, the Cheyne Beach Whaling Station. French activist, Jean-Paul Fortom-Gouin, was impressed with the Greenpeace actions in the North Pacific and decided on a more aggressive approach.[

        Fortom-Gouin financed the operation and dubbed his group, which included Greenpeace’s Robert Hunter, the Whale and Dolphin Coalition (Fortom-Gouin had also largely financed the Greenpeace-Hawaii action against Russian whalers). He had previously worked with the Australian Project Jonah while serving as Panama’s official representative to the IWC meeting in Canberra just two months prior.

        and

        Before long, the words “Save the Whales” began to appear on bumper stickers, fliers, T-shirts and petitions. Conservation groups dedicated to this purpose formed including both average citizens and social radicals whose ideas on how to respond varied widely. The first was the American Cetacean Society which was formed in 1971 and quickly followed by the Whale Center and Connecticut Cetacean Society.

        Sorry, Cap’n, but the “Whale and Dolphin Coalition” has you beat by a quarter century, and the American Cetacean Society did the same. I fear that calling your pet project “the oldest whale conservation group in the world” is no more true than many of your other statements.

        Sadly,

        w.

        PS—For those of you who would like a most interesting actual analysis, of all whale strandings in New Zealand, it is here and is well worth reading. See in particular Table 6, Page 36.

      • There is no way to win an argument with a stranger to the truth because the dummy will never know that he is lost within the empty space between his ears. What a joke! Goodbye.

      • One last thing. I’d said to Captain Williams:

        And your claim that living creatures only and always travel down-current in the open ocean? That doesn’t even pass the laugh test. Millions of ocean creatures spend their lives traveling upcurrent …

        I realized after commenting that people not familiar with the ocean might wonder, what kind of creatures spend their lives traveling up-current.

        The short answer is, the creatures that swim up-current are mostly the ones that feed on those creatures that are swimming down-current … in particular, filter feeders of a variety of kinds, but other species as well. Coming at your prey head-on cuts down the time between predator-prey interactions, which translates to more food per unit time.

        w.

      • Capt. David Williams March 12, 2016 at 4:22 am

        There is no way to win an argument with a stranger to the truth because the dummy will never know that he is lost within the empty space between his ears. What a joke! Goodbye.

        Whoa! He ran out of here so darned fast, he left behind his falsified claim that he founded

        “The Deafwhale Society, the oldest whale conservation group in the world!”

        Heck, he even forgot his exclamation mark at the end there, and it appears to be one of his favorite ones, he used that same exclamation mark at the end of all of his comments.

        Oh well, I’m sure if he needs new credentials to impress the rubes, he can easily manufacture a new set.

        In a more serious vein, Captain, I fear that in this case you’ve had the misfortune to run up against people who ask for, you know, “evidence”. Your claim is that undersea earthquakes create such intense barotrauma that it drives the whales to beach themselves … but you haven’t provided any evidence of that.

        And in fact, your barotrauma theory is contradicted by the New Zealand stranding data. IF strandings were caused by barotrauma, the whales would beach themselves wherever they are … but that’s not what the data says.

        I note in passing that you also claim that the “seaquakes”, as you call them, were responsible for the sinking of the submarine USS Scorpion, and that seaquakes solve the Mystery of the Marie Celeste … I would not be surprised if tomorrow you’re telling us how seaquakes are responsible for the disappearance of Judge Crater.

        Look, Cap, I’m sure your heart is in the right place, and that you care deeply for these magnificent creatures. But your theory about seaquakes? Sorry, but as far as anyone can tell, “seaquakes” are not the cause of anything but possibly a trivial minority of the whale strandings. They are neither frequent enough, nor loud enough anywhere but in the immediate area of the quake, to be the cause of a significant portion of the strandings.

        However, I fear that mere facts will not alter your course … so please, accept my best wishes for your further journey.

        w.

        … “Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that’s even remotely true!” …
        Homer Simpson

    • Exactly Kent! As you correctly pointed out, frequency rather than loudness could be a factor. One can blow 120 dB into an ultra sound whistle behind someone and that person won’t notice; try to change the frequency and…

    • Woulda, coulda, shoulda … what if? … maybe.. SOUNDS TO ME like your postulations would serve as ‘boiler-plate’ for a grant request (I guess).

      • I’m sorry, Bob, but I have no clue what you mean. This is why I ask people to quote what they object to. In this case I not only don’t know what ideas you are objecting to, I don’t even know who you are addressing.

        Best regards,

        w.

    • Agreed. And I used it in a rebuttal just last night.

      Oh well, not like there is a shortage of negative issues about wind farms.

      Then again, as I remember being a similar scenarios with the apartment next door blasting highly amplified noxious sounds and thumps; and I sure felt like beaching myself repeatedly against concrete columns just so I could get some sleep.

      Maybe the cetacea feel the same about having wind farms next door.

      Then there are the researchers playing with literally blasting squid by sonar; only there are some big problems with testing squids using sound. ‘Potential for Sound Sensitivity in Cephalopods’:
      T. Aran Mooney, Roger Hanlon, Peter T. Madsen, Jakob Christensen-Dalsgaard, Darlene R. Ketten, and Paul E. Nachtigall’

      “…Early anecdotal reports suggested that cephalopods might detect sounds because squid were attracted to 600-Hz tones and cuttlefish ( Sepia officinalis ) elicited startle responses to 180-Hz stimuli (Dijkgraaf 1963 ; Maniwa 1976 ) . Norris and Møhl ( 1983 ) later postulated that squid might be debilitated by the acoustic intensity of foraging odontocete (toothed whale and dolphin) echolocation clicks. This hypothesis led Moynihan ( 1985 ) to suggest that squid might, in turn, be deaf to acoustic stimuli to avoid this “stunning.”…

      Cephalopods tend to be very visual critters and don’t sport what people would consider ‘ears’. However;

      “…Previous studies have shown that cephalopods are sensitive to underwater particle motion, especially at low frequencies in the order of 10 Hz. The present paper deals with quantitative modeling of the statocyst system in three cephalopod species:…”

      . Unfortunately, this particular bit of research is all models after this note.

      From the sound sensitivity paper:

      “…However, anatomical evidence of squid statocysts indicates that the organ acts as an accelerometer (Budelmann 1976 ) potentially used for acoustic detection (Budelmann 1992 ) . Behavioral conditioning experiments later confirmed that squid ( Loligo vulgaris), octopus ( Octopus vulgaris ), and S. officinalis can detect acceleration stimuli from 1 to 100 Hz, presumably by using the statocyst organ as an accelerometer detecting the body movements of the squid in the sound field (Packard et al. 1990 ) . This and a follow-up study (Kaifu et al. 2008 ) showed that cephalopods can detect the low-frequency particle-motion component of a sound field, but the question whether cephalopods are also sensitive to higher frequencies and sound pressures still remained. Recent laboratory experiments have demonstrated that squid do not exhibit antipredator responses in the presence of odontocete echolocation clicks (Wilson et al. 2007 ) , indicating that they cannot detect the ultrasonic pressure component of a sound field…”

      An organ that detects particle acceleration is not the same as an organ that converts external sound to internal signals including volume/intensity.

      Perhaps the research goons playing with the sound equipment should find other work.

    • My apologies for the double post. I thought my PC or ISP provider ate the post.

      Deletion of my second post(s) is welcome!

  2. How do they navigate ? Is it by a sound map, a kind off radar? Like moths do by the moon and get confused by our lights.

    • Echolocation is the main navigation tool. Studies have found that while migrating, they go from one geological feature to another, many miles apart, finding a seamount or cliff face acoustically. There are probably other audible cues as well, the sound of a basin or open water, like us standing in a room with high ceilings or a narrow corridor. And they have high intelligence, the largest brains on the planet. So it would be reasonable to assume they can memorize features for navigation.

      • Oh yeah. It is useful to consider that our Navy designed the low frequency active sonar (LFAS) by emulating the sounds whales make. frequency sweeps and bursts that are designed to highlight specific features in the acoustic landscape. Using this, they can find a submarine from hundreds (thousands?) of miles away. And it sounds like a robotic whale.

      • I have got lost a number of times by mis-interpreting the features I thought were waymarkers. The worst was at night in the Breacon Beacons, with thirty blokes getting very cheesed off following me rouned in a circle…….

  3. Willis,

    I notice a large lack of frequency mentioned in most of the articles. We are affected differently by the same amplitude at different frequencies. It would be strange if the whales weren’t also.

    I give weight to your comment that the turbines have been operating for years with no previous beachings, but, degradation from ageing of the things could be changing the spectrum and amplitudes they are emitting.

    Another area that needs more research.

    • I liked the graph in figure 1 particular because it was one that showed both strength and frequency.

      w.

      • Strangely enough I don’t see an entry for Wind Turbines on the chart…

        I tend to agree that they are NOT the problem, that it is natural, but, no current data means it is NOT possible to exclude them as contributory.

  4. May I suggest the use of black type on the various areas. The light type on the bright green is almost illegible. I personally have excellent color discrimination, so if I am having problems, I suspect that there are folks who cannot read the type at all in them.

    • ShrNfr March 6, 2016 at 4:16 pm

      May I suggest the use of black type on the various areas. The light type on the bright green is almost illegible. I personally have excellent color discrimination, so if I am having problems, I suspect that there are folks who cannot read the type at all in them.

      Hey, it’s not my graph. I just grabbed it and used it. Direct your complaints to the artist.

      kokoda March 6, 2016 at 4:43 pm

      Willis has a slight problem with color.

      kokoda has a large problem with jealousy …

      w.

      • All very fine and all very well, but I will call it to your attention that if it is not your graph, a couple of simple steps in potatoeslop would clarify the information that you are attempting to present. I am sure your article has value. That value would be improved if you had better graphics in this case. Sorry you are sensitive on the topic of presentation, but this one could have been improved with a slight amount of work on that graphic, be it yours or somebody else’s.

      • ShrNfr March 7, 2016 at 5:53 am Edit

        All very fine and all very well, but I will call it to your attention that if it is not your graph, a couple of simple steps in potatoeslop would clarify the information that you are attempting to present. I am sure your article has value. That value would be improved if you had better graphics in this case. Sorry you are sensitive on the topic of presentation, but this one could have been improved with a slight amount of work on that graphic, be it yours or somebody else’s.

        If you actually cared about it, you would have volunteered to fix it yourself. Instead, you choose to whine about it and accuse me of being sensitive.

        Color me unimpressed. Come back when you have something to contribute other than pointless negativity.

        w.

  5. …At the end of the day, in most instances, the cause of most instances of whales stranding themselves on shorelines around the planet remains a mystery. And it seems like this stranding near the wind turbines is in the same situation of having an unknown origin, because it can’t plausibly be laid at the feet of the wind turbines themselves….

    Aha… but, Willis, you’ve forgotten the PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE! That’s the principle that lets the Greens ban a thing they don’t like purely because no one can prove that it’s 100% safe in all circumstances, including ones we haven’t thought about yet, in a future that no one can predict…

    If the turbines were run by Shell to provide power for offshore drilling, there would be ‘Save the Whale’ marches in all major Western capitals next week…

    • Dodgy Geezer March 6, 2016 at 4:24 pm

      Aha… but, Willis, you’ve forgotten the PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE!

      Thanks, Dodgy. That laughable idea? Been there, discussed that

      w.

    • Dodgy Geezer gets a Budweiser as he has “said it all” about the greenies.
      Willis points out that Aristotle, 340 years before Jesus was born, wrote that whale strandings were well known. Since the Greeks and Egyptians seem not to have built similar structures back then surely wind turbines weren’t the cause then.
      President Obama could, of course, declare whale strandings to be “unprecedented” and have the EPA ban wind turbines. More likely than current temp readings that he HAS called unprecedented. Our knowledge of whale behavior doesn’t go back as far as temp proxies.
      I wonder if Alexander and Barak have much in common.

      • “I wonder if Alexander and Barak have much in common.”

        Wow! Talk about stirring the imagination.

  6. Good analysis. I agree with your assessment, whale strandings have been documented for centuries and we still don’t know the cause.

  7. One adverse health effect to humans from low frequency infrasound pulses by wind turbines is due to vibration of the inner ear gyroscopics that contribute to balance. Those structures (one for each ear) are vibrated and confuse the neural inputs up the brainstem. That’s the source of the “sea sickness” symptoms. Studies from Wright-Patterson labs during the 60s (lost to me from fatal hard drive crash a few years ago) on flight simulators found that whole body vibrations at infrasound frequencies could be tuned to give all pilots sickening sensations including vibrating other tissues (particularly vertebrae) with resulting increases in blood pressure, heart rate …

    None of those vibrations are audible to us – don’t have any idea about whales and humans are typically pretty low on animal sensation scales. Point is, those noises don’t have to be deafening to be damaging. Won’t speculate on beaching.

  8. Just a minor detail. Killer whales (orcas) are not even whales. They are the largest most viscious dolphin. Whales, dolphins, and porpoises are the three recognized genera of sea mammals. All presumably decended from four legged land mammals,somewhen back when. All dolphins and porpoises are toothed. Whales come in two flavors; toothed (e.g.Sperm) and (krill) filtering (e.g. Balleen)
    Otherwise another beautiful and poetic Willis post.

    • ristvan

      re: Whales, dolphins, and porpoises are the three recognized genera of sea mammals.

      Huh? What about seals, sea lions, walrus, and (yes) polar bears? All mammals.

    • “Just a minor detail. Killer whales (orcas) are not even whales. They are the largest most viscious dolphin. Whales, dolphins, and porpoises are the three recognized genera of sea mammals.”

      Since we’re being picky, everybody seems to have their own taxonomy for the cetacea (and most everything else actually). Whales/dolphins/porpoises is a common breakdown for the odontoceti (toothed whales). Odontoceti doesn’t include the baleen whales which area a separate suborder (Mysticeti).

      FWIW, Wikipedia puts killer whales in the family Delphinidae (porpoises), genus Orcinus

      But that doesn’t mean that next week or next year someone won’t present strong arguments for moving Orcinus out of the Delphinidae into its own family or some other family.

      Genus is a lower level term — second from the bottom in Linnaean nomenclature.

      Taxonomy seems to be yet another unsettled science.

      • The discussion is about the effect noise has on mammals spending significant time living & eating in the oceans. Splitting pedantic hairs about the taxonomy of sea otters (Enhydra ultras) and other sea is like counting dancing angels on the head of a pin.

        When I GOOGLE “Marine mammals” (https://www.google.com/#q=sea+mammal+definition) I get the following: Marine mammals, which include seals, sea lions, whales, dolphins, porpoises, manatees, dugongs, marine otters, walruses, and polar bears, form a diverse group of 129 species that rely on the ocean for their existence.Ristvan could use a maturity transplant .

        I’m happy to provide ristvan with this needed update on the definition of marine mammals; I wish I could help as much with the required maturity transplant (or, in his case perhaps, implant).

    • Killer whales are indeed toothed whales (parvorder Odontoceti), of the genus Orcinus in the subfamily Orcininae of the family Delphinidae, the oceanic dolphins. Its sister families in the superfamily Delphinoidea are the Monodontidae (beluga whales and narwhals) and Phocoenidae (porpoises). Other superfamilies currently recognized in the Odontoceti are three river dolphin groups, sperm whales and beaked whales.

  9. I always get a kick out of Tisdale & Willis’ posts. They do a good job of analyzing more-or-less obscure stuff and boiling it down into a thousand words or less, so that even I can understand (at least some of) it.

    I like whales (who doesn’t?), but if I was a professional whale-hugger I’d at least do the homework to create a stacked-bar-chart (y axis: global total beached whale deaths; x axis: calendar year) plotting whale beaching with n-miles of a wind farm.

    Some folks want to worry about wind farm (or other acoustic sources) whale beachings without any real “event” data. This is similar to the recent polar bear extinction fiasco – nobody, in fact, had even bothered to inventory the bears. When they did, it looks like we got bears coming out the wazoo, and populations are healthier than ever.

    • nobody, in fact, had even bothered to inventory the bears.

      When I was in the arctic in the 1970s, Ian Stirling and his crew were actively studying polar bears. They were actually tagging them so they were pretty much on a first name basis.

      The government scientists were able to produce plausible numbers for polar bears. The Eskimos disagreed with those numbers. They said there were way more polar bears than the government scientists said there were.

      On the one hand, the Eskimos had more credibility because they spent many more man-hours on the land. On the other hand, they had an interest in inflating the numbers to get a bigger hunting quota. I tended to side with the Eskimos.

      We can’t say that the government scientists didn’t bother to inventory the polar bears. The most we can say is that they got it wrong.

      • commieBob

        I’m certainly no Polar Bear expert so I defer to you and the Eskimos. Following what I’ve read about polar bear census on WUWT over the past few years, I recall there are a number of Arctic territories inhabited by polar bears, some of which are “inventoried” more rigorously than others, but nobody claimed the entire species of polar bear had been accurately inventoried in all territories.

        My previous comment was in reference to the entire population, which was alleged to be rapidly going extinct.

      • Chip Javert says:
        March 7, 2016 at 9:13 pm

        commieBob

        I’m certainly no Polar Bear expert …

        Me neither. “Polar bears. Why’d it have to be polar bears?” (apologies to I. Jones)

        My previous comment was in reference to the entire population, which was alleged to be rapidly going extinct.

        While I have the greatest of respect for Dr. Stirling (and his associates), his expertise exists under the conditions in effect when he did his research. Everything else is extrapolation and hypothesis.

    • Chip…..out the wazoo? Is that less than a gazillion? Or is it similar to “up to your ass in alligators”? Inquiring minds want to know.

      • fossilsage

        As it applies to Polar Bears in, it means you should not go trick-or-treating in Arctic territories dressed as a ring seal.

  10. I recalled that cavitation could be a problem for sonar so I decided to google on it. What turned up was Pistol Shrimp.

    These little guys can kill small fish with their 218 dB blasts of sound. Awesome!

  11. The obvious explanation is that the whales are just homesick for the land they left millions of years ago and would like to become terrestrial mammals again.

  12. To me it is all speculation.

    It may not be a question as to whether the sound damages the whale, but rather whether a sound confuses the whale. The nature and location of the sound together with the interaction of other sounds in the vicinity may be important.

    However, since we do not know what whales are looking for, how they interpret the sounds that they detect, what these sounds mean to them and the significance they place on various and different sounds, it would be extremely difficult to reach any conclusion on whether a windfarm in any particular location may have an impact on them.

    Thank god for fossil fuels since without those, there would probably be no whales left.

  13. Willis I caught on to the way killer whales beach them selves to capture seals. On Vancouver Island there is a trail along the shore that many people walk along to see killer whales swim by, the trail is 10-15 ft high, I have often wondered how people can just stand there and oe and ah if they would realize what these animals are capable of, just seeing them from the relative safety of a large vessel they are something to behold but scary none the less.

  14. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1626231/

    “….were found to demonstrate a clear 11–13- year periodicity in the number of events…”

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1385110104001297

    “…We compared the documented sperm whale strandings in the period from 1712 to 2003 with solar activity, especially with sun spot number periodicity and found that 90% of 97 sperm whale stranding events around the North Sea took place when the smoothed sun spot period length was below the mean value of 11 years, while only 10% happened during periods of longer sun spot cycles…..”

    • From the first paper:

      The Victorian dataset revealed a significant increase in the number of events reported in the period from the late 1980s to the mid-1990s associated with a concerted increase in observer effort (R. M. Warneke, unpublished data), which overwhelmed analyses and the ability to discern any trends underlying in the data. To account for this bias in the stranding record, we analysed only those data from Victoria across the period 1923–1980.

      Translation: the last twenty-five years of data don’t fit their theory, so they’ve found a reason in some unpublished data to exclude it, and guess what?

      Once they throw away the data that doesn’t agree with their theory, the data agrees with their theory! Who knew? I note that although the same thing appears to be true of their other dataset, the New Zealand dataset, they used all of that dataset … why?

      It may just be a coincidence that it fits with their presumed cycle …

      Their method is also vague. They say they are using an “exponential regression”, but they don’t give the equation used. Is it 1) y=ax^b or 2) y=ae^(bx)?

      I also note that the two articles make two separate and somewhat contradictory claims. The first one says the strandings show 11-13 year periodicity. However, it says nothing about sunspots or solar cycles.

      The other says that the strandings occur more often in solar cycles below 11 years in length, and less often when the solar cycles are longer. But if the cycle length is 11-13 years, how can it occur more often during short solar cycles? I’m not clear how that works.

      Unfortunately, the second paper is paywalled, and I’m not interested enough to shell out $35.95 …

      w.

  15. May I correct the statement that wind turbines have been there for years. This is only half true. Yes wind turbines have been there for years but not ones the current size. The newer larger ones rotate slower so they produce a different frequency. As the wind hits the blade the energy extraction slows it down so you have in effect generated a pressure wave equal to the power extracted. In other words an extra low
    frequency sound wave in the same order of power as the turbine rating. This is orders of magnitude more powerful than naval sonar. I notice that turbine people only start at frequencies of around 16Hz. Surely they must know the real power is at the blade rotation speed related one which is far lower.
    Add to this we have far more very large arrays of them so the mix frequencies produced are going to now be across the board and right in the most damaging part of the spectrum for whale communication.

    So far I have not seen any tests on the sound from wind turbines that addresses the real problem with arrays of them. The blades emit around a 6 Hz extra low frequency signal with each one different. The beat signals produce peaks at random points at really high levels but localised. Even the small five turbine local wind “farm” shows this effect when the wind is in a particular direction probably due to something to do with the tower alignment and spacing. Notice how even in the naval example the important part was intensive use of MULTIPLE sources.

  16. Hey, Willis, slightly OT, but:

    One reason for the initial rejection of my ice age paper, was because I mentioned you… ;-). Sorry, we are both in the same boat – outsiders in a conformist world. Apparently, the reviewer did not like ‘sceptical’ views the Thunderstorm Thermostas theory). Oh, how science has changed. (In truth, the review was a bit of a hatchet-job.)

    R

  17. It’s unlikely IMO to be down to sound pressure levels – more likely to be down to infrasound at frequencies which damage complex brains and/or other organs. People get killed by 7Hz and can be badly shaken up by ~14Hz. We know this and it’s been weaponised though it proved to be too dangerous to use because low frequencies are omni-directional therefore uncontrollable.

    Wind power industry seems to have gone out of its way not to produce frequency and SPL spectral charts for turbines either on land or on the water in the infrasound frequencies known to cause physiological effects in humans and I would assume in other higher mammals.

    • Sorry, John, but 7 hZ noise killing people is simply an urban legend that even Wikipedia doesn’t believe … and Wiki believes everything. Here’s some actual facts about the matter:

      The report “A Review of Published Research on Low Frequency Noise and its Effects” contains a long list of research about exposure to high-level infrasound among humans and animals. For instance, in 1972, Borredon exposed 42 young men to tones at 7.5 Hz at 130 dB for 50 minutes. This exposure caused no adverse effects other than reported drowsiness and a slight blood pressure increase. In 1975, Slarve and Johnson exposed four male subjects to infrasound at frequencies from 1 to 20 Hz, for eight minutes at a time, at levels up to 144 dB SPL. There was no evidence of any detrimental effect other than middle ear discomfort.

      Regards,

      w.

      • http://wayback.archive.org/web/20080920193328/http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/noise/research/lowfrequency/pdf/lowfreqnoise.pdf

        I have read it before but I’ve just read it again – very little about infrasound – mostly about LF sound in the audible spectrum but some sections which do relate to negative effects from some infrasound/simulated infrasound trials.

        However, the specific work I have seen starting in the 1950s is not included nor anything remotely like it. I prefer to believe that evidence and I have seen the plans of the equipment they used before they were officially destroyed to prevent anybody else trying to replicate the experiment(s). It was actually lodged as a patent at one time and available to anybody for a small fee. I have discussed this at length with people used to very low frequency sound e.g. industrial noise engineers and organ builders, and there was general agreement ‘it was possible’. But if you prefer Wiki then fine! That’s the world we live in these days…

      • John R Walker March 7, 2016 at 4:14 pm

        However, the specific work I have seen starting in the 1950s is not included nor anything remotely like it. I prefer to believe that evidence and I have seen the plans of the equipment they used before they were officially destroyed to prevent anybody else trying to replicate the experiment(s). It was actually lodged as a patent at one time and available to anybody for a small fee. I have discussed this at length with people used to very low frequency sound e.g. industrial noise engineers and organ builders, and there was general agreement ‘it was possible’. But if you prefer Wiki then fine! That’s the world we live in these days…

        Let me get this straight. You do not have one single bit of evidence that 7 hz noise can kill people. None. Zero. Zip. No links. No quotations. No witness statements. No plans for the device. Nothing.

        However, you handwave that lack of evidence away by claiming that there were documents and plans and even a patent, all of which no longer exist because of a grand conspiracy to destroy every scrap and copy of the evidence worldwide … and you think I’m credulous?

        In friendship,

        w.

        PS—In the course of researching this I came across a page asking the question, “Is there a sound that can kill you.” The first answer on the page was “Justin Bieber should do it …”

      • If you expose a mammal to a 7 hz signal in air, less acoustic energy enters the internal organs so there is less trauma. On the other hand, because flesh is mostly water, exposing a mammal to an intense 7 hz hydroacoustic signal while submerged is a different story entirely. The LF sound would travel through the body and alter the greatly volume of air in the lungs and intestines and place the heart in jeopardy by putting pressure on aorta and other major blood vessels. In addition, the resonant frequency of the abdominal mass is ~7 hz so it conceivable that such a signal would empty the bowels rather quickly. This signal is also very near the Schumann Resonance so various effects can be observed.

        We must also consider sound underwater much differently that sound in air. The main difference is that air is a far less dense medium, so it doesn’t take much to move air, but sound attenuates reasonably quickly in air, whereas under water, you need a sound that’s intense enough to move the water, which is quite dense and heavy, but it’s not very compressible so the sound then will propagate long distances.

        There is a lot learn here when talking about the likelihood of auditory injury in whales.

  18. “Unless perhaps this time the whales are beaching themselves in a grand cetacean Gandhi-style non-violent protest against the turbines, a final tragic attempt to encourage humans to get rid of those expensive subsidy-sucking machines marring the lovely surface of the sea.”
    .
    That’s as good a theory as any!
    .
    Seriously, as whale beachings have been observed for hundreds and thousands of years, it’s amazing that we still don’t know what causes them.
    Chris

    • Hey man, we do not even know why women ask men if their butt looks fat. And that was likely one of the first questions ever asked when words were invented.
      “Why beached whales” has just got to wait it’s turn.

    • Chris, archeologists tell us whales have been mass beaching for at least 3 million years, likely much longer. Undersea earthquakes, volcanic explosions, and the occasion violent impact of a meteorite with the water’s surface is the only ancient source that could cause injury in diving whales. Sinus barotrauma is the #1 injury in scuba divers and is also the number injury in other diving mammals.

  19. Please read this as an aside to the Willis scientific work.
    The following poem from 1992 is dated by its reference to then Australian Prime Minister Hawke and Greenpeace buying another protest boat. Plus the style trying to emulate Tom Lehrer.

    My life is all in tatters
    Nothing else is left that matters
    When I get this letter in the daily mail,
    Inviting my donation
    In return for life salvation – to
    Save a whale! Save a whale! Save a whale!

    It says there’s nothing to it
    Write a cheque, man, you can do it,
    Or send us cash in case your credit fails.
    You will feel an inner glow
    As you watch your savings go –
    Save a whale! Save a whale! Save a whale!

    My wife has up and left me
    For a girl who’s acting friendly
    And my youngest boy is heading off to jail,
    For spreading L.S.D.
    Through the kindergarten free –
    Save a whale! Save a whale! Save a whale!

    My teeth are full of caries
    And my mind’s off with the fairies,
    But coughing up will make it all worthwhile.
    They’re locking me inside
    And I’m thinking suicide –
    Save a whale! Save a whale! Save a whale!

    One daughter needs aborting
    And another one is courting
    A motor cycle hippie, out on bail
    Who has suspected rabies
    From biting dogs and babies
    Save a whale! Save a whale! Save a whale!

    The rent is overdue,
    So is daughter number two,
    My overdraft is quite beyond the pale.
    I’m threatened with eviction
    And criminal conviction –
    Save a whale! Save a whale! Save a whale!

    There should be peace within because
    I have found this greenie cause.
    Greenpeace ™ and I together will prevail!
    There are better things for money
    Than my life of milk and honey –
    Save a whale! Save a whale! Save a whale!

    Today I got a greeting
    Saying that they’d held a meeting
    And decided that the way to save the whales
    Was to hold a protest talk,
    Buy a ship and Robert Hawke –

    And the whales? Save the whales?
    Damn the whales!!

  20. Much as I would like Wind Turbines to be responsible for Whale beachings, so that we could get them banned, Willis’ argument seems rather sound. The wind turbines may not make the whales beach themselves.

  21. Looking at the chart I see the rather surprising datum that submarines emit 100dB, about the same as Flipper when echolocating. As a long-time Tom Clancy fan I am outraged. I remember clearly from the TV show how much noise Flipper makes and I demand to know why we aren’t getting all the stealth we are paying for in our submarines! At least I assume those were our submarines; I can’t imagine the Soviet Union would invite scientists to study their submarines and publish the results (unless it’s disinformation).

    I checked the linked article and although they show submarine noise in the graph, they do not list it in the table or provide a source for it. The table also claims that “background ocean noise” runs 74-100dB; at 100dB for any frequency between 100 and 8000 Hz, OSEA requires personal hearing protection. Maybe I should wear ear muffs when I dive.

    Seriously, are submarines really that noisy?

    • For some applications, subs emit over 200 dB.

      Whale strandings have indeed occurred for about as long as there have been whales, but whale strandings have nonetheless been strongly correlated with sonar operations. Whales also have been observed to flee from some sonar emissions.

  22. “And don’t even get me started on the ongoing slaughter of marine birds by offshore wind turbines”

    I wish I could because it’s my suspicion that each one is a marine bird slaughter factory. The stanchions become artificial reefs and the resulting increase of marine life around them attracts the birds to their death. (And bird corpses attract even more fish which then attract even more birds…)

    • “And bird corpses attract even more fish which then attract even more birds…”

      … which attract larger predators like sharks and marine mammals such as whales

  23. Fond though I am of CFACT and their great work on the side of rationality, I thought the article by Paul Driessen and Mark Duchamp, attempting to link off-shore wind turbines and whale beaching, long on supposition and short on facts—a bit too much like the way the Climatists operate. So it is good to see Willis taking a closer look at this claim.

    Willis has the same complaint about the blog post linked by AJB:

    http://deafwhale.blogspot.com

    The author, a Capt. David Williams, claims that whale beaching is a consequence of violent undersea disturbances (seaquakes, volcanoes, meteorite strikes, etc. in addition to more recent anthropogenic devices) which can destroy the sinuses on which whales rely for sound production and echo-location, making feeding impossible and leading to starvation, dehydration, and disorientation. This is an interesting hypothesis, which surely deserves more research. Capt. Williams says that the stomachs and intestines of (some?) beached whales were empty, which suggests he’s on the right track. Has anyone looked at their sinuses?

    The good Captain claims that the Navy and oil companies have conspired to silence this research direction, because they are themselves increasingly part of the problem (though historically it’s all nature, not man). This seems a bit far-fetched, as surely there is a good deal of research on whales that is not dependent on their funding—but then, who knows? Too often, he who pays the piper. . .

    /Mr Lynn

  24. Its likely a bad choice to be found in the UK North Sea and/or the English Channel, not known for bountiful life now that the EU trawls it to death. So, not sure about adequacy of fish lunches. There’s an awful lot of seals about and languishing well out of deep water I think…certainly in channels along the Norfolk coast.

    Was thinking that their pinger(s) must give them an indication of depth? These boys will get into shallow water fast if they don’t clock the tides, as some have discovered…badly. So if they get returns indicating seals and go for it…might be catastrophic. Its a leadership problem perhaps?

  25. Are off-shore wind farms “inshore” wind farms? And what are “beaked whales”?

    Yes these machines do have an effect on wildlife. You’d be a dumb ass to suggest otherwise…

  26. Whales are animals like all others. They exhibit herd mentality. That is generally, there is a leader and the rest just mindlessly follow the leader. The leader is generally the eldest with the most experience or memories and is trusted by the others to be the one to follow to food, safety, etc. If that leader suffers an error or mental degeneration the rest are at risk until a new leader to follow is discovered. Fish, birds, whales or humans, all lemmings that follow the leader. Only 1 in 10 is capable of original thought,or leadership. All the rest are just followers or fans…pg

  27. Has anyone ever done an autopsy on any of the beached whales? I would wonder if they perhaps had a parasitic issue or something similar to Naegleria fowleri (trophozoites in feeding form) found in fresh water as an example. Just a though as it doesn’t appear that noise is the culprit.

    • We once dissected a pigmy sperm whale which beached alive, dying overnight. It was exceptionally full of worms (Sample size only one). These were nematodes which are very invasive and could easily enter and interfere with vital organs. Buckets full in the digestive system. Have heard one theory that this could be important, but have not checked the literature. Parasitologists complain that ecologists greatly underrate their effect.

  28. Willis, I generally enjoy your posts and appreciate your approach to data analysis, however, I think you may be rather too precipitate in absolving wind turbines in this instance. Wind turbines produce infrasound from two major sources, the blades and the tower. The fundamental frequency is around the blade pass frequency, around 1Hz for larger turbines and is mainly caused by turbulence as the blades pass through differing wind conditions (wind shear) and blade-tower interaction. The towers themselves generate infrasound as they act as giant tuning forks/organ pipes. This would be transmitted down through the structure and into the surrounding water. Wind turbines tend to synchronise and there will thus be nodes where emissions from other turbines will both neutralise and augment each other.
    I can readily accept that infrasound from large turbine arrays has the potential to disturb whale communications and navigation. As you note, mass strandings have been recorded for centuries and there may be no linkage, however, I don’t think we can exonerate them just yet.

    • Thanks, Chris. I’ve stood right next to one of those giant birdchoppers. While the slow thwop thwop thwop is indeed audible, it is not loud. GE puts the noise at louder than a blender but not as loud as a lawn mower, 95-105 dB right at the location.

      Next, I doubt greatly that the “towers themselves generate infrasound as they act as giant tuning forks/organ pipes”. If the towers were “ringing” like that they’d soon shake themselves to pieces. Engineers spend a lot of time avoiding such resonances for that very reason. And as a musician, I’d have to say that if you hit the towers with a hammer, they’d go “thunk” instead of ringing like a tuning fork.

      Finally, people keep assuming that whales are dumb. They are not. They avoid noisy areas whenever possible and they get out of the way of noisy ships (if the ships are not moving too fast).

      Think about making the same claim about say blind people, that if they were walking along and slowly came near a location with a loud raucous noise that confused them, they would move towards the noise and end up injured … highly unlikely. People, whether blind or not, move away from irritating or confusing or dangerous situations.

      I find it very hard to believe that whales are so dumb that strange noises make them kill themselves. If that were true, they would have gone extinct millions of years ago.

      w.

      • “People, whether blind or not, move away from irritating or confusing or dangerous situations.”

        If that were true, there would be no Darwin Award winners.

      • Christopher Paino March 7, 2016 at 3:17 pm

        “People, whether blind or not, move away from irritating or confusing or dangerous situations.”

        If that were true, there would be no Darwin Award winners.

        Ah, no, my friend. In the long run, it is precisely the existence of Darwin Award winners that keeps the great mass of people moving away from dangerous situations …

        Best to you,

        w.

  29. Very good article Willis. Very reasonable deductions. Thanks.

    (wish our submarines were down in the ambient noise region though)

  30. One of the loudest underwater noises I’ve heard was at 90 feet on a reef off of Tioman Island, which hosted thousands of shrimp and crabs clacking their claws at each other. Blocked out all other noises.

    • Fred Harwood March 7, 2016 at 12:24 pm Edit

      One of the loudest underwater noises I’ve heard was at 90 feet on a reef off of Tioman Island, which hosted thousands of shrimp and crabs clacking their claws at each other. Blocked out all other noises.

      Thanks, Fred. I’ve heard something near the same level of noise from a different source. In a steel fishing boat when your bunk is down below the waterline up against the hull, you can hear every underwater sound. When we used to anchor overnight off of the Farallon Islands, the sound of the rocks moving against each other with the waves and current was so loud it used to keep us awake, “us” being me and the gorgeous ex-fiancee. It sounded horrible, fingernails on a blackboard had nothing on this noise. The best I can say is that it sounded like a tribe of stone giants grinding their granite teeth … most unsettling, and very loud.

      However, as you point out the shrimp and crabs have that beat for pure total noise levels.

      w.

      • Trying to sleep at anchor over grunting robin fish also was memorable. The sea provides a cacophony of loud noises that most people never hear.

  31. “They are also known to drive themselves right up onto the beach to capture seals.”
    …moving towel back now…

  32. I got to thinking about an oddity regarding the frequency of the sonars. From the investigation report cited above:

    Ships A and B operated the tactical mid-frequency sonar designated AN/SQS-53C [center frequencies 2.6 and 3.3 kHz (kilohertz) usually at source levels of 235 dB]. Ships C and D operated sonar designated AN/SQS-56 (center frequencies 6.8 to 8.2 kHz, usually at source levels of 223 dB).

    One oddity I’ve noted today while looking at Figure 1 is obvious once I thought about it. This is that the characteristic frequency of the different cetaceans is a function of body length, with the smaller whales and dolphins and such having higher frequency calls.

    Now, the whales in the Bermuda grounding were of the smaller varieties. The ship’s sonars in this case were not the “LFAS” shown in Figure 1. They were in the range from two to three and six to ten kilohertz, which is in the vocalization range of the smaller whales.

    Here’s the oddity. The top note on the piano, usually called “C8”, is at about four kilohertz. So two of the ships were putting out sonar pings in a range that is clearly audible to humanoids. The oddity is … why didn’t any humans who were swimming at the time report painfully loud noises? This was in Bermuda, there must have been lots of folks in the water, and according to the report the sonar beams were broadcast horizontally and amplified in shallow water.

    So why no reports of humans hearing painfully loud noises?

    Regards,

    w.

  33. Thank you Willis, I do appreciate a good critique. Thank you WUWT for showing an interest in the matter. And thank you everyone for your good comments, which I just happened to read.

    It is a complex matter, and it will take many years before we can form an enlightened opinion. Marine mammal experts can’t even agree on why whales, porpoises and dolphins have been beaching themselves since the beginning of times.

    Logic tells us that something in the sea, somewhere, sometime, makes that milieu unbearable to them, especially where individuals pushed back to the sea by humans do come back to beach again (thanks for that reminder, Willis). Be it sound, be it infrasound, be it chemicals, all bets are open. Parasites, epidemics are other possibilities, and more that we don’t know about. The lemmings theory seems to be disproved in this case, as a couple of hundred miles separate the English from the Continental beachings.

    Why did Paul Driessen and I suggest that wind turbines may be a cause? – Because they were the common denominator between the beachings in all 3 different countries, and also with another massive beaching event that occurred in Scotland in 2012. For that reason, and because the frequency of strandings in the North Sea went up seven-fold in the past decade or so, according to an article we forgot to mention…
    I´ll try to find it and post it here.

    Another thing did not make sense: the sperm whales that beached in England had empty stomachs. Those that stranded in Germany and Holland had their stomachs full. That’s if we are to trust everything that’s reported by journalists.

    The only thing that did make sense was that the beachings all occurred in a part of the North Sea that is plagued with offshore wind farms, some operating, some under construction, some at the surveying stage (involving the use of powerful air guns to map the sea floor). Here are two maps that speak more than a thousand words: http://wcfn.org/2016/02/02/wind-turbines-and-marine-mammals/

    In the circumstances, we thought it was our duty to bring that to the attention of the public, the media, and the scientific community, lest everyone soon forgets about the problematics of marine mammals and wind turbines. Years ago, when I tried to investigate on location the story of baby seals washing dead ashore at Scroby Sands, I found myself confronted to an omerta. This is how some industries go around problems: paying people to shut up.

    That said, we stand to be corrected on some of our assumptions, on our reasoning, even on our conclusions. Neither of us are marine mammal biologists, and we welcome constructive criticism. Only one thing is sure: this subject is worthy of a real debate in the scientific community, and we shouldn’t let the Greens, the wind industry and their friends in government tell us that the science is settled .- It is not.

    • Mark, thank you for your response. I always laud anyone brave enough to stand up and defend their work in public. It is the very heart of the scientific method, and you are to be commended.

      As to the strandings in the North Sea, here’s my problem. Yes, the strandings happened in areas near wind farms. However, there are wind farms all over the North Sea, and have been for some years now. It would be hard to beach oneself in the North Sea and not be somewhat near to a wind farm.

      My question is, pods of whales obviously traverse the North Sea on a regular basis … so why did this particular pod strand themselves, and not one other pod that has gone through the area?

      I doubt greatly that it is from the operational noise of wind farms. As you might imagine given the environmentally superconscious EU countries, there have been several European studies of the amount of noise generated by wind farm operations. Here’s a relevant quote (emphasis mine) from a study done by researchers from Aarhus University in Denmark:

      Underwater noise from the operating turbines is generated in the machinery in the nacelle and is transmitted through the tower to the foundation, from which it is radiated into the water. Under normal conditions, the noise is of low intensity (by any standard; Madsen et al. 2005), with energy concentrated at low frequencies (below a few kilohertz). Third-octave levels of the noise from various types of turbines measured about 100 m from the foundation lie in the range of 100-120 dB re 1 μPa RMS.

      Despite the low intensity, the noise may contribute significantly to the local noise level because it is present almost continuously during the lifetime of the wind farm. Under favourable conditions (low background noise, low transmission loss), the sound may be audible to seals, odontocetes, and fish at distances up to some kilometres from the turbines.

      Due to the low intensity and low frequencies of the noise, the impact on marine mammals is considered marginal. Masking is irrelevant due to the low-frequency emphasis of the noise, and behavioural reactions, if any, are likely to be found only in the close vicinity of the foundation (a few hundred metres or less). Direct damage to the hearing of marine mammals is also unlikely because noise intensities, even right at the foundation, are unlikely to ever exceed known thresholds for inflicting damage.

      Here’s another quote, from PubMed, again, emphasis mine:

      Underwater noise was recorded from three different types of wind turbines in Denmark and Sweden (Middelgrunden, Vindeby, and Bockstigen-Valar) during normal operation. Wind turbine noise was only measurable above ambient noise at frequencies below 500 Hz. Total sound pressure level was in the range 109-127 dB re 1 microPa rms, measured at distances between 14 and 20 m from the foundations. The 1/3-octave noise levels were compared with audiograms of harbor seals and harbor porpoises. Maximum 1/3-octave levels were in the range 106-126 dB re 1 microPa rms. Maximum range of audibility was estimated under two extreme assumptions on transmission loss (3 and 9 dB per doubling of distance, respectively).

      Audibility was low for harbor porpoises extending 20-70 m from the foundation, whereas audibility for harbor seals ranged from less than 100 m to several kilometers. Behavioral reactions of porpoises to the noise appear unlikely except if they are very close to the foundations. However, behavioral reactions from seals cannot be excluded up to distances of a few hundred meters. It is unlikely that the noise reaches dangerous levels at any distance from the turbines and the noise is considered incapable of masking acoustic communication by seals and porpoises.

      Given the low levels of the wind farm noise and the low frequency of the noise, combined with the fact that whales are generally not driven to beach themselves in the area, I find it quite unlikely than the noise from the wind farms is a significant factor in the particular beaching you have highlighted.

      However, YMMV, particularly since after centuries of speculation and study we still don’t know the cause for most whale beachings.

      My thanks to you for your thoughts,

      w.

      • Thank you Willis. I will try answering tomorrow – it is getting late here in Spain.
        Also, I’d like to find that article mentioning the 7-fold increase in North Sea beachings.

    • Again, Mark, thanks for your comment. You say also:

      WCFN March 8, 2016 at 9:44 am

      Marine mammal experts can’t even agree on why whales, porpoises and dolphins have been beaching themselves since the beginning of times.

      Logic tells us that something in the sea, somewhere, sometime, makes that milieu unbearable to them, especially where individuals pushed back to the sea by humans do come back to beach again (thanks for that reminder, Willis). Be it sound, be it infrasound, be it chemicals, all bets are open. Parasites, epidemics are other possibilities, and more that we don’t know about.

      The part I disagree with is your idea that something makes the ocean “unbearable to them”. For instance, if they have parasites eating away at their vestibular organs, they might just be unable to navigate.

      Alternatively, the parasite toxoplasma gondii is known to affect the movement patterns of small mammals by erasing their fear of carnivores … I can certainly imagine some similar parasite causing the whales to lose their fear of the shallows.

      Or, some very infrequent combination of seafloor topography and sound-channeling thermoclines might confuse their sonar and make them think that they hear the deep ocean in the direction of the beach.

      My point is that despite what “logic” may tell us, their beaching may have nothing to do with something making the ocean “unbearable” to them. It may be from something inside of them, rather than something outside. Or it may be something outside of them that is fooling them, not something making the ocean unbearable to them.

      It is a fascinating question, in any case, thanks for writing your original analysis for us all to discuss.

      My best to you,

      w.

      • Thank you Willis. I take your point. It’s a good one.
        My thoughts: when dolphins that people push back into the sea turn around and come back to beach, I find it hard to believe that it’s because something “make them think that they hear the deep ocean in the direction of the beach.” For that to be plausible, another disfunction in their brain would need to make them think that there is a wide, unsurmountable obstacle in the direction they were sent to by the rescuers. And every dolphin in the pod would need to have exactly the same screwed-up perception. The odds of this occurring are overwhelmingly against it. Besides, why would they not swim towards the perceived obstacle, to find a way around, under or above it?

        Another thing: when they can feel the sand touching their tommies, it would take a stupid dolphin to continue pushing ahead until their body is half-way above the water line. The idea of suicide comes to mind readily. The question is their motivation.

        This makes me think there is something unbearable in the ocean where they come from, and that they NEED to get their ears and brains out of the water, to ease the pain. Suppose surveying vessels sent by an offshore wind promoter to map the ocean floor are using powerful air guns to send unbearably strong signals into the water where dolphins are swimming. Suppose their inner ears, their sonar systems, their brains were hurt by these signals, as in the case documented by the US Navy. The acute pain would make them want to get their ears and skulls out of the water, at all costs.

        Indeed, in the 2012 mass beachings, where 17 pilot whales, one minke whale and one sei whale stranded in Scotland, wind industry surveying vessels were at work at the time (in the Firth of Forth, where the strandings occurred). Swimming back towards the source of the noise (and possibly infrasound) would have been “unbearable”, and this could explain the beachings. Having their heads back in the water too, would have been unbearable.
        http://www.thecourier.co.uk/news/uk/campaigners-warn-seismic-surveys-for-offshore-windfarms-could-be-to-blame-for-whale-beachings-1.37117

        That seems to me the most reasonable explanation. And if it walks like a duck, and talks like a duck, then maybe it IS a duck after all.

        In the case of the 29 sperm whales stranded in Jan-Feb of this year, in 3 different countries, we don’t have rock-solid evidence that some surveying was being done at the time. But looking at the map posted on wcfn.org, there are many future wind farm locations in the area, where surveying may have been carried out when the whales were nearby.

        Whether wind farms in their operating phase could be causing whales to beach is a different kettle of fish. However, I know what infrasound emitted by land wind turbines can do to animals: http://wcfn.org/2014/06/07/windfarms-1600-miscarriages/
        http://wcfn.org/2014/03/31/windfarms-vertebrates-and-reproduction/
        And I know what they can do to people: I co-founded Victimes des Éoliennes (Victims of Wind Turbines) http://fr.friends-against-wind.org/victims about a year ago, and I am in daily contact with people who can’t sleep in their homes, and suffer all kinds of tortures because they belong to a minority of people who are hyper-sensitive to very low frequencies. It’s not the noise that’s a problem: it’s infrasound, which travels 50 km without losing much amplitude, goes through walls, and makes organs resonate inside the body. Imagining that it would affect whales underwater, where vibrations are magnified, is no difficult for me.

        I need to take a break now. I have found the article mentioning the seven-fold increase in beachings in the North Sea. I´ll get back soon. Please bear with me.

        Regards
        Mark

  34. I figure beached whales are merely expressing a collective desire to claim their ancestral homelands.

    Land Rights for Whales NOW.

    Plus they are fed up with swimming around in seas and oceans.

    • Makes me wonder if seals are on a similar evolutionary path today that whales traversed ~45 million years ago?

  35. WCFN March 9, 2016 at 12:43 pm

    Thank you Willis. I take your point. It’s a good one.
    My thoughts: when dolphins that people push back into the sea turn around and come back to beach, I find it hard to believe that it’s because something “make them think that they hear the deep ocean in the direction of the beach.” For that to be plausible, another disfunction in their brain would need to make them think that there is a wide, unsurmountable obstacle in the direction they were sent to by the rescuers. And every dolphin in the pod would need to have exactly the same screwed-up perception. The odds of this occurring are overwhelmingly against it. Besides, why would they not swim towards the perceived obstacle, to find a way around, under or above it?

    Another thing: when they can feel the sand touching their tommies, it would take a stupid dolphin to continue pushing ahead until their body is half-way above the water line. The idea of suicide comes to mind readily. The question is their motivation.

    This makes me think there is something unbearable in the ocean where they come from, and that they NEED to get their ears and brains out of the water, to ease the pain. Suppose surveying vessels sent by an offshore wind promoter to map the ocean floor are using powerful air guns to send unbearably strong signals into the water where dolphins are swimming. Suppose their inner ears, their sonar systems, their brains were hurt by these signals, as in the case documented by the US Navy. The acute pain would make them want to get their ears and skulls out of the water, at all costs.

    Thanks, Mark. My objection to that line of reasoning can be stated in one word: Aristotle. If we accept your idea that something is so objectionable that they ” NEED to get their ears and brains out of the water” … then what has that objectionable something been for two thousand years and more?

    Let me state my position clearly.

    1. Whale strandings have occurred throughout recorded history, and for the overwhelming majority of incidents, we know no more than Aristotle knew about the question. The number of proposed causes is quite large, and include things both inside and outside the whales.

    2. SOME small number of strandings are known to be from very strong (200+ dB) sonar emissions in special situations (multiple-source strong sonar emissions in confined shallow waters).

    3. Curiously, strandings are much more common among the toothed whales (odontocetes) than the baleen whales. While in relation to sonar-caused strandings this may relate to their use of sound in hunting, baleen whales like humpbacks also use sound in hunting … go figure. And most strandings aren’t from sonar. We’re right up there with Aristotle in understanding that as well.

    4. Strong sonar emissions from warships are common around the planet, all day, every day. Warships big and small simply don’t move unless their sonars are on. Whales are not stranding themselves all day every day, which makes it likely that in most situations they just move away from the loud sound source, just as any animal would do (including humanoids).

    5. That’s about it. Nobody has ever shown that whale strandings are from confusion, from parasites, from infrasound, from predators, we simply don’t know.

    Now, could wind farms interfere with whale echolocation? Seems very doubtful. Per the references I posted above, in the ocean the wind farm noise barely makes it above background noise. In addition, natural marine echolocation systems must be very resistant to other noises, because the ocean is a very noisy place.

    For an example of the sensitivity of living creatures regarding echolocation, consider bats. Sure, they can catch a bug on the wing by shouting at it and listening for the echoes, which is amazing enough in itself. But to me that’s not the astounding part.

    Bats often hunt in swarms, which means they can pick out their own return echo in the middle of thousands of other bats who are also yelling at their own bugs … how do they do it? No clue, but a penguin mom can pick her chick out of thousands by the vocalization alone. Go figure.

    And the same is true of whales in schools. All of those jokers are clicking away, echolocating like mad, and their signals are all in the same frequency band and are emitted right next to each other … but despite that, in an already noisy background environment they can pick the thousand-times weaker echo of their own signal out of the mass of clicks right next door mixed in with the mess of the returning echoes. We take nature for granted because we’re jaded by constant exposure, but as an example of complex natural signal processing, that is astonishing.

    I doubt greatly that a being that can accomplish that feat will get confused by a wind farm going thwoop, thwoop, thwoop, whether that sound might affect humans or not …

    So I find it very hard to believe that the rhythmic low-frequency (<1 kHz) low amplitude signal emitted by wind farms is confusing some poor whale. There are plenty of reasons to oppose offshore wind farms, from aesthetics to economics. But I fear that whales are not among them.

    I await your discussion of the 7x strandings data. However, the North Sea is known to be cluttered with warships of a dozen nations, so I'm not sure how you'll account for that.

    My best to you, thanks for continuing the conversation,

    w.

    • Hi Willis. First let’s talk about the 7-fold increase:

      “Sperm-whale strandings around Britain increased in the 1980s from an average of one a year to about seven. ”
      http://www.theguardian.com/environment/shortcuts/2016/jan/25/why-are-so-many-whales-getting-washed-up

      My comments:

      it says: “around Britain”, but then “pushing juvenile males further north into the North Sea”…”into the area” (North Sea again). So, here we are: more sperm whales in the North Sea accounts for 7 times more strandings, says the pro-wind Guardian. But we don’t know that the population increased 7 times as well, do we?

      You’re arguing that the increased strandings are caused by increased naval traffic, particularly warships. How many? We don’t know. Now that the Cold War is over, the reverse may be true. Anyway, you say yourself that ” in most situations they (whales) just move away from the loud sound source”.

      This leaves us with an unexplained 7-fold increase in strandings in the past 35 years. I tend to put the blame on oil, gas, and windfarm surveying and pile driving. If an air gun goes off near a whale, it has no time to move away: its ear and sonar system may get hurt badly, depending on how close it was to the gun.

      to be continued…

      • Thanks, Mark. You say “let’s talk about the 7-fold increase”, with a link to that font of misinformation, the Grauniad. Going there, I find inter alia the only statement about the claimed seven-fold increase:

        Sperm-whale strandings around Britain increased in the 1980s from an average of one a year to about seven. This may be positive: since hunting was banned, the number of mature males has increased, pushing juvenile males further north into the North Sea. Reports of increased squid catches – influenced by climate change – may also be encouraging more sperm whales into the area.

        If you take that claim as being factual … well, let me suggest that you need to increase the sensitivity gain on your skepticometer. Where did they get that number? They provide absolutely no source, no links, no citation, nothing, just their unadorned word.

        And if you believe the Grauniad without having any external support for their claims, just their word, which is really good and super-duper factual, honest, it is, … well, let me just say that believing the Guardian would be a clear indication that you don’t know about the Guardian. It is notorious for, what is the technical term … oh, yeah, it’s called “making sh*t up” …

        So I fear at the end of the day we have nothing in hand to discuss. I can’t discuss a fabled anecdotal whale increase, no facts to discuss.

        Best regards,

        Finally, IF, and it’s a big if, there is a significant increase in beachings, the Guardian offers three possible reasons, two of which I listed in the quote. The other is the idea that:

        … the North Sea acts as a trap. Young male sperm whales head north in search of deep-sea squid, but won’t find much suitable food in the North Sea. Used to navigating in depths of 2,000 metres, they are disoriented by the North Sea’s 20-30-metre depths and the lack of “landmarks” on its gently sloping seabed. It’s virtually impossible for them to find their way out through the narrow English Channel. The whales become dehydrated because they obtain their water from squid.

        But the dead Dutch and German animals were found to be well-fed, according to Andrew Brownlow, a Scottish pathologist who helped conduct the necropsies.

        So even if there is an increase, we still have lots of possible reasons and very little way to distinguish which of them (if any) might be right.

        Thanks for looking up the seven-fold,

        w.

  36. cont’d…

    You wrote:
    “My objection to that line of reasoning can be stated in one word: Aristotle. If we accept your idea that something is so objectionable that they ” NEED to get their ears and brains out of the water” … then what has that objectionable something been for two thousand years and more? ”

    Answer: sudden events like sound and infrasound from seaquakes, volcanic eruptions, lightning, and meteorites crashing into the sea.

    “1. Whale strandings have occurred throughout recorded history, and for the overwhelming majority of incidents, we know no more than Aristotle knew about the question. The number of proposed causes is quite large, and include things both inside and outside the whales.”

    Answer: You recognize that the possible causes are numerous. But you don’t explain why you exclude wind farms from the list. Yet wind farm construction causes very loud noises from pile driving and from air guns (seismic surveying), much like the sound of powerful navy sonars which are known to be dangerous to whales. The wind industry itself recognizes this, and promoters respond to criticism by saying they WILL warn whales before any of these loud noises are made. But who will control this is done?

    “3. Curiously, strandings are much more common among the toothed whales”

    Answer: Probably because of physiological differences in their ears and sonar systems, in the frequencies they use, whatever.

    “Nobody has ever shown that whale strandings are from confusion, from parasites, from infrasound, from predators, we simply don’t know. ”

    Answer: That doesn’t prevent us all from suggesting answers. As you said, it’s the scientific method.

    “I doubt greatly that a being that can accomplish that feat will get confused by a wind farm going thwoop, thwoop, thwoop, whether that sound might affect humans or not … “

    Answer: The noise wouldn’t bother them much more than that of a boat, perhaps, but what about infrasound, what about seismic vibrations from wind turbines into the bedrock? No one has studied that. The wind industry would certainly not finance such a study. They didn’t do it for onshore turbines, because they know only too well since 1985 that wind turbines produce harmful infrasound (Neil Kelley et al. 1985).

    • cont’d…

      Going back to older comments you made on March 8, 2016 at 12:00 pm, you present as proof that offshore wind turbines are not noisy the fact that a study from the University of Aarhus, Denmark, says so. I have three remarks to make in this respect:
      1) As I said before, noise is not the main problem where wind turbines are concerned. Infrasound is, and that was not measured by the University. The wind industry won’t let them. This leads me to my remark #2…

      2) Universities are not as independent as they seem. For instance, the Aarlborg University receive research money from Denmark’s wind industry. They work hand in hand with that industry. So much so that they fired their prestigious professor in acoustics Henrik Moeller, who had the audacity to disagree with the wind industry and the government regarding low frequency noise emitted by wind turbines.
      http://waubrafoundation.org.au/2014/was-professor-moller-fired-because-he-told-truth-about-wind-turbine-low-frequency-noise/

      3) generally speaking, all studies on wind turbines are being financed by the wind industry, sometimes the government, or both. The results are ALWAYS exonerating the wind turbines from any negative effects of significance. It’s like government-financed climate research: don’t trust any of it, let alone quote it.

      In another post (March 8, 2016 at 12:00 pm) you wrote:
      “My question is, pods of whales obviously traverse the North Sea on a regular basis … so why did this particular pod strand themselves, and not one other pod that has gone through the area?”

      Answer: Quite simply because, when that particular pod came about, a seaquake occurred, or a seismic survey was started, or piles were being driven into the sea floor, or lightnings caused very loud noises in the water, or a meteorite crashed… etc.

      • cont’d…

        Coming back to your last post (March 9, 2016 at 1:45 pm), you wrote:

        “So I find it very hard to believe that the rhythmic low-frequency (<1 kHz) low amplitude signal emitted by wind farms is confusing some poor whale. There are plenty of reasons to oppose offshore wind farms, from aesthetics to economics. But I fear that whales are not among them.”

        Answer: I suppose surveying and pile driving are not included in this statement. You are only talking about the operating phase of wind farms, right?

        Very low frequencies, particularly in the infrasound range (0 – 20 Hz) are what makes some wind farm neighbors on land very sick. Whether they make whales sick as well is an open question. The wind industry, and governments, refuse to finance studies about wind turbines and infrasound. – WHY? Because they KNOW wind turbines produce hamful infrasound (Kelley et al. 1985-87).

        Your opinion, or intuition, is that whales are not bothered by wind farms. You haven't brought any proof of it, that is why I say "intuition", and that's fair enough. Scientists should have intuition. It's essential for research. However, when you assert: “ But I fear that whales are not among them”, you are shutting the door on research. You are saying: the science is settled, because I said so.

        I beg to disagree with anyone saying such a thing. Anyway, I am tired, and you are probably tired as well. I will write a new article on whales and wind farms, and post it on wcfn.org – unless WUWT would like to have the exclusive for a couple of days.

    • WCFN March 9, 2016 at 10:17 pm

      cont’d…

      You wrote:

      “My objection to that line of reasoning can be stated in one word: Aristotle. If we accept your idea that something is so objectionable that they ” NEED to get their ears and brains out of the water” … then what has that objectionable something been for two thousand years and more?”

      Answer: sudden events like sound and infrasound from seaquakes, volcanic eruptions, lightning, and meteorites crashing into the sea.

      I’m sorry, but you proposed this theory to explain why, when beached whales are pushed back into the ocean, they sometimes just beach themselves again. You said it was because the ocean was “unbearable”.

      But the sounds you’ve listed are one-offs. If a meteorite crashed into the sea, it might scare the whales up onto the beach … but it wouldn’t keep them from going back into the water one the sound and the fright were over.

      “Nobody has ever shown that whale strandings are from confusion, from parasites, from infrasound, from predators, we simply don’t know. ”

      Answer: That doesn’t prevent us all from suggesting answers. As you said, it’s the scientific method.

      No, the scientific method is not to guess, it is to TEST the possibilities. We can sit here and speculate that it is from gamma rays … so what? Until we actually look for evidence, we’re just engaged in what we used to call “hitchhiking to Chicago” along with the corresponding hand motions … and that’s not science.

      “I doubt greatly that a being that can accomplish that feat will get confused by a wind farm going thwoop, thwoop, thwoop, whether that sound might affect humans or not … “

      Answer: The noise wouldn’t bother them much more than that of a boat, perhaps, but what about infrasound, what about seismic vibrations from wind turbines into the bedrock? No one has studied that. The wind industry would certainly not finance such a study. They didn’t do it for onshore turbines, because they know only too well since 1985 that wind turbines produce harmful infrasound (Neil Kelley et al. 1985).

      True … and no one has studied whether it is gamma rays either …

      w.

      • Willis,

        You wrote:

        “But the sounds you’ve listed are one-offs. If a meteorite crashed into the sea, it might scare the whales up onto the beach … but it wouldn’t keep them from going back into the water one the sound and the fright were over.”

        >> Answer: We don’t know that they ALWAYS refuse to go back into the ocean. In many cases, they are dead when found. In others, they are too heavy to move..
        Besides, it could be a new behavior when, and only when, human-made blasts are being repeated.

        >> It could also be that the pain in their damaged inner ears and brains is more acute underwater. In that case, even one-off events would make them not want to go back underwater.

        “No, the scientific method is not to guess, it is to TEST the possibilities. ”

        >> Answer: You put the cart before the horse. Without a guess, without a hypothesis to test, there is no testing. And the hypothesis I propose is this one: some or all cetaceans that beach may be doing it because the pain in their damaged ears and brains (sonar cavities) is lesser in the air than under water, particularly when the blasts are being repeated (air guns, sonars, pile-driving, lightnings…). Ear pain can be unbearable, so imagine that plus acute pain in a sonar cavity, inside the head…

        “True … and no one has studied whether it is gamma rays either …”

        Being facecious? Why not!?

  37. WCFN March 9, 2016 at 11:18 pm


    Very low frequencies, particularly in the infrasound range (0 – 20 Hz) are what makes some wind farm neighbors on land very sick. Whether they make whales sick as well is an open question. The wind industry, and governments, refuse to finance studies about wind turbines and infrasound. – WHY? Because they KNOW wind turbines produce hamful infrasound (Kelley et al. 1985-87).

    Again, this is uncited, unsupported speculation. Might be true, might not.

    Your opinion, or intuition, is that whales are not bothered by wind farms. You haven’t brought any proof of it, that is why I say “intuition”, and that’s fair enough.

    First, nobody can prove anything in science except in very special situations. So no, I have no proof. But I do have evidence. My evidence is that we have had offshore windfarms for some years now in areas that are regularly traversed by whales. If they did confuse whales, we would have them crashing into the coast all the time … but we don’t. That is evidence that the effect, if it exists, must be very weak, or we’d see whales beaching all the time.

    Scientists should have intuition. It’s essential for research. However, when you assert: “ But I fear that whales are not among them”, you are shutting the door on research. You are saying: the science is settled, because I said so.

    Whoa, whoa, I never said the science was settled. I told you that I feared that wind farms were not among the reasons whales beach themselves … but that is a far cry from me “shutting the door on research”. I said nothing about future research. I said nothing about settled science. I simply gave you my conclusions.

    Look, I’ve given you my reasons and my evidence. You don’t like them? Fine.

    And I’ve given you the best info I have on underwater sound from wind farms. Your response?

    1. The wind industry won’t let the universities study infrasound, and

    2. The universities aren’t as independent as they seem, and

    3. All studies are funded by the wind industry, or the government.

    Er … um … even if all of that is true, so what? I’m sorry, but that is an ad hominem attack of the highest order. Perhaps you have not noticed that although you think you have trashed the study I referred to, in fact you have not said one single word about the study, you’re just casting shade on the authors … and that means nothing about the validity of the study.

    Regards,

    w.

    • You wrote:

      “Again, this is uncited, unsupported speculation. Might be true, might not. ”

      >> Nope! There is abundant, independant literature supporting the view that infrasound emitted by wind turbines make some people sick. Even government studies from 1985-87 (NASA’s Kelley et al) and a recent one financed by a honest wind promoter in Australia (truly an exception), by acoustician Steven Cooper.

      >> Anyway, under the scientific method, speculation (ie hypothesis) is the first step to take. Then comes testing. There would be no science without the first step: speculation. (or second if you want, observation coming first, obviously).

      “My evidence is that we have had offshore windfarms for some years now in areas that are regularly traversed by whales. If they did confuse whales, we would have them crashing into the coast all the time … but we don’t. That is evidence that the effect, if it exists, must be very weak, or we’d see whales beaching all the time. ”

      >> You’re forgetting the wind farms’ construction phase, again. If no whales happened to pass near the construction site when air guns were being blasted or piles driven into the bedrock, there would be no beachings. Besides, beachings may have occurred that were not related by the media; or that were but that nobody linked to the blasts; or that occurred days later and many miles away. How long does it take before a whale is in such pain that it decides to beach itself? (assuming my hypothesis is correct).

      >> Regarding the operational phase of wind farms: cetaceans can leave the area if they feel disconfort from infrasound. So the harm done would not be lasting. The wind farms would just be reducing their habitat. But it would also add to the stress that beleaguers them since man started to hunt them, then polluted the oceans with plastic, nets, lines and hooks, noise and infrasound.

      >> “RESEARCHERS say an ocean experiment that was accidentally conducted amid the shipping silence after the September 11, 2001, terror attacks has shown the first link between underwater noise and stress in whales.
      The analysis was led by a New England Aquarium researcher. It showed a drop in the stress-related hormone in right whales following the attacks.

      >> “THE steady drone of motors along busy commercial shipping lanes not only alters whale behaviour, but can affect the giant sea mammals physically by causing chronic stress, a study published today has reported for the first time.

      >> “But over the long haul, constant elevations of the hormone due to stressful situations becomes a detriment, leading to stunted growth, a weakened immune system and a compromised ability to reproduce.”
      http://austlane.com.au/a430570/root_hrefSharePath

      >> So I ask: what will be the long term effect of stress on cetacean populations, given their weakened immune system?

      “Perhaps you have not noticed that although you think you have trashed the study I referred to, in fact you have not said one single word about the study, you’re just casting shade on the authors … and that means nothing about the validity of the study. ”

      >> If someone hands you a study on climate by Michael Mann, will you spend your valuable time reading and analysing it? (unless you want to do a thorough hatchet job).

      >> I have spent 14 years analysing wind-industry-financed-studies on bird and bat mortality, and found that all modern ones are biased and cannot be trusted.
      I have no reason to believe their studies on whales are any different. Hence the comparison with a Michael Mann study.

      Regards

      Mark

    • WCFN March 10, 2016 at 6:53 pm

      You wrote:

      “Again, this is uncited, unsupported speculation. Might be true, might not. ”

      >> Nope! There is abundant, independant literature supporting the view that infrasound emitted by wind turbines make some people sick. Even government studies from 1985-87 (NASA’s Kelley et al) and a recent one financed by a honest wind promoter in Australia (truly an exception), by acoustician Steven Cooper.

      Thanks, Mark. Sorry for my lack of clarity. I didn’t mean that there is no literature supporting the idea that infrasound can affect people, although I have not been impressed by the quality of the wind turbine infrasound studies touted by windmill opponents.

      What I meant above was that I know of no studies about infrasound affecting whales, which is what I was calling unsupported speculation. If you have such studies, I’d love to see them.

      Finally, from the Journal of the Canadian Acoustic Association, whose conclusion is that there is very little infrasound emitted by wind turbines, viz:

      5 CONCLUSIONS

      • Infrasound from wind turbines is below the audible threshold and of no consequence.

      • Low frequency noise is normally not a problem, except under conditions of unusually turbulent inflow air.

      • The problem noise from wind turbines is the fluctuating swish. This may be mistakenly referred to as infrasound by those with a limited knowledge of acoustics, but it is entirely in the normal audio range and is typically 500Hz to 1000Hz. It is difficult to have a useful discourse with objectors whilst they continue to use acoustical terms in­correctly. This is unfortunate, as there are wind turbine installations which may have noise problems.

      • It is the swish noise on which attention should be focused, in order to reduce it and to obtain a proper estimate of its effects. It will then be the responsibility of legislators to fix the criterion levels, However, although the needs of sensitive persons may influence decisions, limits are not normally set to satisfy the most sensitive

      The paper is worth a close read. Or you could look at the study by IOP, which says:

      Infrasound (1–20 Hz) from wind turbines is not audible at close range and even less so at distances where residents are living. There is no evidence that infrasound at these levels contributes to perceived annoyance or other health effects.

      And here’s from a third study which looked at all known windmill infrasound measurements:

      Abstract
      A critical survey of all known published measurement results of infrasound from wind turbines has been made. The survey indicates that wind turbines of contemporary design with an upwind rotor generate very faint infrasound with a level far below the threshold of perception even at a rather short distance. From considerations on propagation and transmission of infrasound it is concluded that infrasound from such upwind turbines can be neglected when evaluating the environment effects of wind turbines.

      So I’m sorry, but while the thwoop-thwoop-thwoop could assuredly be damaging to your sleep or perhaps even to your health, I’m not buying the idea that infrasound from windmills is any kind of danger at all.

      I suspect you really mean “low frequency sound” and not infrasound … I can’t find anyone who says that wind turbines generate any significant amount of infrasound (typically thought of as less than 20 hz), and plenty of references that say that they don’t produce much infrasound.

      Regards,

      w.

      • Willis,

        In the same manner, if you google “climate change”, you’ll find mostly studies that say climate change is caused by man, and only a few marginal ones saying it’s a load of nonsense. So, if you look at that with an “objective” mindset, you’ll conclude that “97% of scientists” endorse the AGW theory. And you’ll be wrong.

        In a world where politics and money are corrupting science, you can’t go around googling for studies and give credit to the ones that are published by the most reputable scientific journals. These journals are bought, or didn’t you know?

        The same thing that has happened with climate change is happening with wind farms. It’s one and the same gigantic fraud. Forget about official studies on infrasound emitted by wind turbines: the only ones that were truthful were the Kelley studies published by NASA in 1985-87. Those studies were shelved in 1987 because they would have stopped the wind industry in its tracks. They surfaced again in 2015 thanks to dedicated, unpaid sceptics who dug deep and unearthed them at long last. Yet, scientific journals continue to ignore the issue, the big media ignore it as well, and the studies are only being discussed in marginal sceptic media – as is happening for studies that rubbish climate change.

        I don’t blame you for believing what you read in official studies on wind farms: “97%” of people do as you do. I am just saying: careful, what you see is not what you get.

        One example: you quote the conclusions of the Journal of the Canadian Acoustic Association, which start with this nonsense:

        “Infrasound from wind turbines is below the audible threshold and of no consequence.”
        Of course infrasound is below the audible threshold! It’s the very definition of infrasound to be below the audible threshold! How inane is that argument!
        Think of it for a minute. It’s like saying: ultra violet rays from the sun are not visible to the human eye, therefore they are of no consequence.

        Go to a tropical beach and offer your bare skin to the sun for a couple of hours. Then come back and tell me that UVs are of no consequence…
        See what I mean?

        What I am saying is: be as skeptical of official wind industry science as you are of official climate science. Both are doctored.

        Two last points, which will help you realize that what I am talking about is real.
        1) Only a small minority of people living near wind farms feels the effects of infrasound. Generally speaking, these are the same people who suffer from motion sickness. Nobody denies that people who are seasick are really feeling sick to their stomachs; that’s because if you’re sitting next to one in a boat, you’ll see that unfortunate person throw up. But as you are unlikely to have spent 24 hours with a windfarm victim in his or her house, you’ll be tempted to say, like the wind industry: poppycock! It’s psychological! If they made money from the turbines near their homes, they would love them!

        I, on the other hand, have stayed overnight in the house of two of these victims. I am in daily contact with them by email. I am also in contact with a dozen others. I talk to Dr Sarah Laurie frequently, and to physicians and other great people around the planet who are fighting tooth and nail to get the wind turbine syndrome officially recognized (remember how long it took to get the authorities to admit there was a problem with tobacco?). I have read a number of papers from those courageous physicians, acousticians and other health professionals who are blowing the whistle on this issue. I can tell you it’s not a joke. That’s why I am confident when I say that there IS a health problem associated with wind turbines.

        Another thing: this minority of people who can actually hear infrasound are the canary in the mine. The majority, which can’t hear infrasound, and sleep normally in their homes near wind farms, will feel the effects down the line as their general health deteriorates. But they won’t realize what’s causing it.

        It wasn’t so bad when wind turbines were generating 500 kW, 750 kW. 1 MW.
        But the modern ones with a capacity of 2, 2,5, or 3MW are emitting pulsating infrasound of much greater amplitude, making more people sick. So, imagine how much infrasound emits an 8MW wind turbine – the kind they build for offshore wind farms.

        2) We’re not talking about the seemingly gentle thwoop-thwoop-thwoop you describe. We’re talking about a strong acoustical signal of about 1 Hz that is emitted by a 15-ton blade as it passes in front of the mast at over 100 mph. Did you know that blade tips travel at speeds up to 180 mph? Birds and bats don’t know that either. Looking at a wind turbine, you’d think the blades turn slowly – thwoop-thwoop-thwoop. But if you take a piece of paper, and put the rotor diameter x 3,14 x rpm x 60 minutes, you’ll discover that the blade tips are moving as fast as a formula 1 car. Few people realize that.

        Regards

        Mark

      • WCFN March 12, 2016 at 12:53 am

        Willis,

        In the same manner, if you google “climate change”, you’ll find mostly studies that say climate change is caused by man, and only a few marginal ones saying it’s a load of nonsense.

        Mark, this now makes the third time I’ve asked for you to back up your claims of wind-farm infrasound affecting whales with some scientific studies. I have also given you two studies of underwater wind-farm infrasound, along with a meta-analysis of all studies done on underwater wind-farm infrasound. All three of them said the same thing—that underwater infrasound from wind farms is meaninglessly small.

        In response, you attack the people funding the studies and etcetera. You wave your hand and say there is only one study that’s worthwhile, the Kelley studies … sorry, pal. You don’t get to just say you don’t like the studies, and claim that they are all the result of a big conspiracy. If you think there are flaws with the studies, you have to point out the FLAWS in the study, not the FUNDERS of the study.

        Next, you complain that the Canadian study says:

        “Infrasound from wind turbines is below the audible threshold and of no consequence.”

        Of course infrasound is below the audible threshold! It’s the very definition of infrasound to be below the audible threshold! How inane is that argument!

        You neglected to read the part of the same study which says (emphasis mine):

        A definition of infrasound is: Acoustic oscillations whose frequency is below the low frequency limit of audible sound (about 16Hz). (IEC 1994)

        This definition is incorrect, as sound remains audible at frequencies well below 16Hz. For example, measurements of hearing threshold have been made down to 4Hz for exposure in an acoustic chamber (Watanabe and Moller 1990b) and down to 1.5 Hz for earphone listening (Yeowart, Bryan et al. 1967)

        The limit of 16Hz, or more commonly considered as 20Hz, arises from the lower frequency limit of the standardized equal loudness hearing contours measured in units of phons, which is a difficult measurement at low frequencies, not from the lower limit of hearing.

        Heck, the lowest key on a piano is 27 Hz, and I can hear well below that. So yes, infrasound (sound below 20 Hz) can indeed be audible if it is loud enough.

        And in any case, they’ve provided values in dB for the various situations and frequencies, so whether wind-farm underwater infrasound is audible is just a red herring to distract us from their actual findings of weak infrasound. The issue is that the underwater infrasound is very weak, and they and a number of other scientists have measured just how weak it is.

        So … let me make this real simple. Your word is far from enough, just as is my own word. If you’d like to convince people that you are right, you need to come up with:

        1. A scientific study that shows that wind farm generated underwater infrasound is strong enough to be an issue, and

        2. A scientific study that shows that infrasound of whatever power your scientific study says wind farms generate has an effect on whales, and

        3. A study, article, or other serious analysis that provides some evidence for the giant wind-farm underwater infrasound conspiracy.

        Remember that I started this by saying regarding your claims about infrasound and whales that “Again, this is uncited, unsupported speculation.” I still say the same. I’ve provided the studies, and all you have done is complain about not what was done but WHO did them, and claim that there is a giant worldwide conspiracy to not actually measure underwater infrasound.

        In other words, you are saying that the scientists who did the studies were not simply incompetent, they were paid by Big Wind to dishonestly change the numbers … really? How many folks are in this putative conspiracy, and what are their names? I mean, you’re accusing people of scientific corruption, a very serious charge and not a claim to make lightly … so what are their names, and where is your evidence of their lack of probity?

        Or are you just tossing out accusations without having the names or the evidence? That would not be very sporting …

        I’m sorry, Mark, but I’m not believing any of this.

        I don’t believe in your conspiracy to suppress underwater wind-farm infrasound data, for which you have provided no support other than your own words.

        I don’t believe your claims about wind-farms generating significant amounts of underwater infrasound, for which you have provided no support other than your own words.

        And I don’t believe your claims about such infrasound confusing whales, for which you have provided no support other than your own words.

        Now, if you want people to believe those claims, there’s only one way to make that happen—go find the science that backs up your words. Stop talking about my science and who did my studies, and provide us with your own science and your own studies, the studies you say are the real deal.

        I look forward to your science and your studies, and I encourage you to do the search for the evidence. Theories are all well and good … but they stand or fall based on the evidence. Be clear that I’m not saying that your evidence for all your claims doesn’t exist. I’m saying I couldn’t find that evidence, and to date you haven’t provided that evidence, but you certainly may be able to do so.

        And in any case, for me at least, finding is almost secondary—the search itself is where all of the fun learning happens.

        Best regards, and best wishes for your search,

        w.

  38. Willis – I have a bit of a problem with this comment: “Sometimes I think that there ought to be a law that you have to have crossed an ocean by boat before you are allowed to write about sea”

    I know a lot of people who cross the ocean as part of their job – many of them have a very narrow field of experience. I also know a lot of fishermen who have never crossed the ocean but have worked in the industry all their lives – they probably know more about the ocean than most people!

    Also, using your analogy – those who do not work with or study whales should not be writing about them :)

    • You’re overthinking it, JBJ. I suggested in a humorous and obviously exaggerated way that people should not write about things where they are clueless. The issue is not really whether they’ve crossed the ocean. It is whether they know what they are talking about. Obviously, some people who have never seen the ocean (or whales for that matter) can write knowledgeably about it … but others, not so much.

      Regards,

      w.

      • So what knowledge do you have about whales other than reading a few papers and seeing them at sea. I have been a marine mammal observer for a long time and would really like to test you in your knowledge base, including identification skills!

      • JBJ March 11, 2016 at 4:34 pm

        So what knowledge do you have about whales other than reading a few papers and seeing them at sea. I have been a marine mammal observer for a long time and would really like to test you in your knowledge base, including identification skills!

        Thanks, JBJ, but I’ll pass on your guaranteed-to-fail-me test. The question is not whether I can tell a beluga whale from an albino balloon at five hundred paces.

        The only relevant question is whether the statements I’ve made about whales are valid and accurate or not. That is the only issue worth discussing. Whether I can name the different kinds of cetaceans and place them in the proper location on the evolutionary tree doesn’t matter. I’ve said a bunch of things about whales, statements which I believe to be true. Unless and until you can show that one or more of my statements are wrong, and so far you have not done so for even one of them, I’d say I’m doing quite well regarding whales …

        Let me close with my quote from my previous post, which is apposite in this situation:

        My Formal Educational Qualifications: For some reason this became an issue in my last post, gotta love trolls. Regarding educational qualifications, I have none. Get over it. My formal scientific education is a year each of college freshman physics and chemistry, period. Despite that, I now have five peer-reviewed papers published in the scientific journals, including a 2004 peer-reviewed “Brief Communications Arising” in Nature magazine (my conclusions were finally upheld more than a decade after publication by two other studies), and over fifty citations to my work. In addition, my posts and ideas have been discussed in the New York Times, the Sydney Morning Herald, the UK Telegraph, and other papers around the world. Heck, I even inadvertently and unknowingly set the stage for Climategate by making the very first Freedom of Information Request to Phil Jones. Go figure. But setting all that aside, the scientific issue is never qualifications—the only valuable question is, are my claims valid or not? If someone’s scientific claims are valid, their qualifications are immaterial … and if their claims are not valid, all the qualifications in the world won’t help their claims in the slightest. So please … can we skip the ad hominem attacks on my education, my ancestry, and my manifold sins of omission, commission, and emission, and stay focused on the science?

        Regards,

        w.

  39. Willis: You wrote, ““bubble screens”, and how they used powerfully loud sounds to herd the anchovies into a tight ball. They said the whale clicks were about 200 decibels … extremely loud,”

    Clicks are for odontocetes (toothed whales). Humpbacks are mysticetes (baleen whales). The way sounds are produced by those two groups of whales are as different as their mouth structures. In odontocetes, the clicks are created by “tapping” the forehead and mysticetes create high decibel sounds by passing air in their larynx. Large odontocetes (such as sperm whales) will use loud clicks for “sonic debilitation” of prey, whereas, the loud “screams” of humpbacks is used to herd and confuse schooling fish within the “bubble nets.”

    I caution all not to generalize an entire order of mammals. To suggest that all whales mass strand is the equivalent of saying that all primates live in trees. Mass standings tend to occur in large odontocetes, such as pilot whales and sperm whales. Mysticetes, not being so gregarious as odontocetes, tend not to mass strand. If several mysticetes strand in a region over a relatively short period of time, a UME (unusual mortality event) may be investigated, but usually turns out to be unrelated events.

  40. Pieter F. March 10, 2016 at 8:34 am

    Willis: You wrote, ““bubble screens”, and how they used powerfully loud sounds to herd the anchovies into a tight ball. They said the whale clicks were about 200 decibels … extremely loud,”

    Clicks are for odontocetes (toothed whales). Humpbacks are mysticetes (baleen whales). The way sounds are produced by those two groups of whales are as different as their mouth structures. In odontocetes, the clicks are created by “tapping” the forehead and mysticetes create high decibel sounds by passing air in their larynx. Large odontocetes (such as sperm whales) will use loud clicks for “sonic debilitation” of prey, whereas, the loud “screams” of humpbacks is used to herd and confuse schooling fish within the “bubble nets.”

    Thanks for the correction, Pieter. OK, everyone replace “clicks” with “screams” in their understanding of my statement abut humpbacks, and we can move forwards.

    I caution all not to generalize an entire order of mammals. To suggest that all whales mass strand is the equivalent of saying that all primates live in trees. Mass standings tend to occur in large odontocetes, such as pilot whales and sperm whales. Mysticetes, not being so gregarious as odontocetes, tend not to mass strand. If several mysticetes strand in a region over a relatively short period of time, a UME (unusual mortality event) may be investigated, but usually turns out to be unrelated events.

    I’m not sure who you think is “generalizing” here. I said the following:

    3. Curiously, strandings are much more common among the toothed whales (odontocetes) than the baleen whales. While in relation to sonar-caused strandings this may relate to their use of sound in hunting, baleen whales like humpbacks also use sound in hunting … go figure. And most strandings aren’t from sonar. We’re right up there with Aristotle in understanding that as well.

    How on earth is that a generalization?

    But perhaps you are talking about something entirely different, said by someone entirely different. Since you did not have the common courtesy to follow my request and QUOTE WHAT IT IS THAT HAS YOUR KNICKERS IN A TWIST, I truly have no clue what has upset you.

    And speaking of “generalization”, you say that mysticetes are not as gregarious as odontocetes … which like most generalizations is generally true. That’s why we use them … but to misquote an acquaintance of mine, “to suggest that all mysticetes are not as gregarious as odontocetes is the equivalent of saying that all primates live in trees.” Pieter, we all use generalizations, INCLUDING YOU, and the generalizations all have limitations, so please cut back on your patronizing tone …

    In fact, one of the largest mass whale strandings in history was of mysticetes, 337 of these “non-gregarious” creatures … and humpback whales (also mysticetes) live in pods of up to 15 individuals, so your generalization is simply not true. Not that it matters to me, because I understand that generalizations all have their limitations … but it seems it matters to you.

    Finally, your claim that odontocetes make their clicks by “”tapping” the forehead” is not supported by the literature. From 2013:

    Exactly Where and How are the Clcks Produced?

    The consensus now is that clicks, while dependent on gas pressure in the nasal passages, are produced in soft tissues (see Cranford, 1988 and Amundin, this volume, for a summary of the evidence). None of the experiments, so far, show how the structures implicated make clicks. In fact, the work of Amundin et al. (!988) implies that Cephalorhynchus commersonii and Phocoena phocoena make very similar narrowband clicks with substantially different apparatus. We do not know how the click-producing mechanisms of these species compare to those of species like Thrsiaps. which make broadband clicks. Definitive answers to these questions probably will require new or vastly improved, non-invasive instruments that can show detailed changes in structures while live animals make clicks.

    SOURCE: Sensory Abilities of Cetaceans

    In other words, nobody knows how they make their clicks, including you …

    Best regards, and how do whales “tap their foreheads” in any case?

    w.

    PS—On the Gregariousness of Mystecetes:

    Humpbacks: travel in pods of up to 15 individuals

    Sei whales: travel in pods of up to 6 individuals

    Blue whales: travel individually or in small pods

    Right whales: travel in individually or in pods of 2 or 3

    Bowhead whales: travel in pods of up to 6

    Minke whales: travel alone or in pods of 2 – 3

    Fin whales: travel alone or in pods of 2 – 3

  41. Let me quote the conclusions of the New Zealand study I linked to above:

    CONCLUSION

    Major theories on stranding have been reviewed with regard to the New Zealand stranding record. It must be emphasised that this record contains 164 herd strandings – probably more herd strandings than any other record.

    My findings show that strandings of offshore species are highly concentrated in relation to their natural distribution. This indicates that strandings are not related to a species abundance factor.

    Offshore species are more prone to herd strand than inshore species and also herd strand at different sites to inshore species. This suggests that coastal unfamiliarity is an important factor in strandings.

    Distribution patterns of single-live strandings support the patterns of herd strandings, suggesting that they have similar cause.

    All offshore species herd strand at sites with gently sloping beaches and in almost all cases they are where there is a protruding peninsula or sandbar. This suggests that the configuration of these sites and their associated tidal and oceanic currents are in some way traps to offshore species.

    The tight cohesion within the group of the social whales explains why it is almost impossible to return whales to deep water while other, live whales call in distress from the beach.

    This is by far the largest, most detailed, and most complete study of strandings that I’ve found. It discusses all of the various theories which have been put forwards for the strandings, and shows whether they are supported or not by the actual distribution and nature of the historical New Zealand strandings. It is a tour de force of a study, fascinating if you are interested in the subject of whale strandings.

    w.

    • “It discusses all of the various theories which have been put forwards for the strandings”

      >> New Zealand has no offshore oil and gas platforms, has it? What about offshore windfarms? Does its naval forces conduct loud sonar exercises?
      I doubt it. Correct me if I am wrong.

      >> So, its studies are only looking at natural strandings.

      >> However, these include those associated with seaquakes, underwater volcanic explosions, meteorites and lightnings, which have the same effects as man made explosions and like noises (air guns, powerful sonars, pile driving).
      Does the study talk about seaquakes, underwater volcanic explosions, meteorites and lightnings?

      • WCFN March 13, 2016 at 6:40 pm

        “It discusses all of the various theories which have been put forwards for the strandings”

        Does the study talk about seaquakes, underwater volcanic explosions, meteorites and lightnings?

        It does not. The problem with those putative causes is several-fold.

        First, as we have seen in the Bahamas sonar strandings, the animals went ashore wherever they were. And that makes sense. If your sonar is blown out by loud noise, you’re more likely to run aground nearby. In the New Zealand strandings, on the other hand, they were clustered at specific locations on the coast.

        Second, sound in the open ocean falls off as the square of the distance. Let’s assume that lightning strikes a kilometer away. Per Figure 1, the intensity is say 200 dB at a distance of one metre from the source. That means that at 1000 metres, the sound is only one millionth as strong. That is sixty decibels, or six orders of magnitude. This means that the sound at 1000 metres is only about 140 decibels, well below the vocalization strength of most whales.

        The same is even more true about big undersea earthquakes, volcanoes, or meteorites. First, the animals would not be clustered at certain sites. Second, the odds of an earthquake occurring that close is slight, simply because earthquakes are nowhere near as common as lightning.

        Next, you say:

        What you actually need is an education on this complex matter. I can’t provide it to you. But if you go to http://waubrafoundation.org.au/ you’ll find all the stuff you need, including the OZ Senate hearings on the matter, and its conclusions, which are that infrasound IS a problem for residents.

        Thanks, Mark. Unfortunately, I looked there, and I didn’t find one thing I need. Let me remind you what I said, as I was quite specific about my needs:

        So … let me make this real simple. Your word is far from enough, just as is my own word. If you’d like to convince people that you are right, you need to come up with:

        1. A scientific study that shows that wind farm generated underwater infrasound is strong enough to be an issue, and

        2. A scientific study that shows that infrasound of whatever power your scientific study says wind farms generate has an effect on whales, and

        3. A study, article, or other serious analysis that provides some evidence for the giant wind-farm underwater infrasound conspiracy.

        I fear that your site didn’t have a single one of those, or if they were there I’ll need more detailed directions, as I was unable to find anything even remotely resembling what I asked for. Instead of info on how underwater infrasound affects whales, all I could find was information about how low frequency sound affects people. Good information, and I’m sure the usual percentage of it is true, but nothing about whales.

        My best to you,

        w.

  42. Mark, you say:

    Two last points, which will help you realize that what I am talking about is real.
    1) Only a small minority of people living near wind farms feels the effects of infrasound. Generally speaking, these are the same people who suffer from motion sickness. Nobody denies that people who are seasick are really feeling sick to their stomachs; that’s because if you’re sitting next to one in a boat, you’ll see that unfortunate person throw up. But as you are unlikely to have spent 24 hours with a windfarm victim in his or her house, you’ll be tempted to say, like the wind industry: poppycock! It’s psychological! If they made money from the turbines near their homes, they would love them!

    I, on the other hand, have stayed overnight in the house of two of these victims. I am in daily contact with them by email. I am also in contact with a dozen others. I talk to Dr Sarah Laurie frequently, and to physicians and other great people around the planet who are fighting tooth and nail to get the wind turbine syndrome officially recognized (remember how long it took to get the authorities to admit there was a problem with tobacco?). I have read a number of papers from those courageous physicians, acousticians and other health professionals who are blowing the whistle on this issue. I can tell you it’s not a joke. That’s why I am confident when I say that there IS a health problem associated with wind turbines.

    Another thing: this minority of people who can actually hear infrasound are the canary in the mine. The majority, which can’t hear infrasound, and sleep normally in their homes near wind farms, will feel the effects down the line as their general health deteriorates. But they won’t realize what’s causing it.

    It wasn’t so bad when wind turbines were generating 500 kW, 750 kW. 1 MW.
    But the modern ones with a capacity of 2, 2,5, or 3MW are emitting pulsating infrasound of much greater amplitude, making more people sick. So, imagine how much infrasound emits an 8MW wind turbine – the kind they build for offshore wind farms.

    I’m sorry, I see I haven’t been clear. I do believe that people are affected by sound coming from wind turbines, just as you describe.

    What I don’t believe is that people are affected by infrasound from wind turbines. Infrasound is generally defined as sound waves with a frequency of less than 20 Hz. All of the scientific data I’ve seen says windmills generate very little infrasound.

    I suspect that you and the people in question are not talking about infrasound, but instead about the 1-2 Hz “thwop-thwop-thwop” sound made by the turbine blades. And it is true that this sound can carry a long way, and that some people seem to be more sensitive to it and affected by it than other people, just as you report.

    But it is not true is that they are being affected by infrasound. Instead, what they are experiencing are individual pulses of sound of a much higher frequency than infrasound. This signal is very different from infrasound. Infrasound is a pressure wave that can be thought of as sinusoidal and continuously varying.

    The “thwop-thwop” sound, on the other hand, is composed of periods of silence interspersed with short bursts of higher frequency noise. Despite the fact that the bursts of high frequency sound from the turbine blade passage occur at intervals of one half to one second (1-2 Hz), the “thwop-thwop” is not infrasound. It is pulsed higher-frequency sound.

    Best regards,

    w.

    • You wrote: “I suspect that you and the people in question are not talking about infrasound, but instead about the 1-2 Hz “thwop-thwop-thwop” sound made by the turbine blades.

      >> You’re confusing sound and infrasound. “Thwop-thwop-thwop” is a sound. Its frequency is not 1 – 2 Hz, but higher, above 20 Hz because everybody can hear it.

      >> Infrasound is a different animal. It travels through walls and insulated windows up to 20 or more miles, and it cannot be heard. It can be “felt” by a super sensitive minority of people, though. They feel it as a pressure in the ear, in the brain, a headache, a nausea, a fast heart-beat, a tinnitus, a difficulty to concentrate, etc. Above all, these vibrations that resonate inside their organs disrupt their sleep. They wake up in the middle of the night in a state of panic, and can’t get back to sleep. Forget about the “thwop-thwop-thwop”. I know you like the gentle sound of it. But make no mistake: “thwop-thwop-thwop” is a sound. Infrasound is something you don’t hear.

      >> You don’t believe infrasound from wind turbines is hurting people because 1) you’ve never known some of the people that are affected, at Falmouth, Mass. for instance (look it up) – I mean talked to them, if not heard them cry. 2) all you’ve read when googling infrasound and wind farms are studies put up by the wind industry, all concluding that infrasound emitted by their wares is negligible.

      What you actually need is an education on this complex matter. I can’t provide it to you. But if you go to http://waubrafoundation.org.au/ you’ll find all the stuff you need, including the OZ Senate hearings on the matter, and its conclusions, which are that infrasound IS a problem for residents.

  43. Willis,

    There is some confusion resulting from what I believe is a site malfunction: 1) not all posts have a “reply” button, 2) some earlier posts appear as being the most recent ones. So what I´ll do is quote the date of the post I am replying to.

    On March 12, 2016 at 2:14 am , you wrote:
    “I have also given you two studies of underwater wind-farm infrasound,  along with a meta-analysis of all studies done on underwater wind-farm infrasound.”

    >> Infrasound is not measured in these studies. Please correct me if I am wrong, quoting the words evidencing they do. It would be most surprising if they did, as the official position is that wind turbines don’t emit significant infrasound, therefore it does not need to be measured. Which is much like the position of the tobacco industry decades ago.

    “So yes, infrasound (sound below 20 Hz) can indeed be audible if it is loud enough.”

    >> Very loud infrasound may be heard further down the scale, possibly to 12-10 Hz. But some people who are hyper sensitive to low frequencies can hear it below that, even if not so loud. At some point they “feel” it more than they hear it. It becomes quite complex with the harmonics.

     “The issue is that the underwater infrasound is very weak, and they and a number of other scientists have measured just how weak it is.”

    >> I believe you are confusing infrasound with sound. I refer you to my first reply above. Please quote the exact words that make you think they measured infrasound emitted by wind turbines underwater. It is MOST unlikely.

    “If you’d like to convince people that you are right, you need to come up with:
    1. A scientific study that shows that wind farm generated underwater infrasound is strong enough to be an issue, and
    2. A scientific study that shows that infrasound of whatever power your scientific study says wind farms generate has an effect on whales, and
    3. A study, article, or other serious analysis that provides some evidence for the giant wind-farm underwater infrasound conspiracy.”

    >> You’re jumping over the phases of the scientific process. I only proposed a theory. Now it needs to be verified. Don’t ask me to do everyting at once, or give me a budget, say 40 million dollars, to hire a good team of independent scientists, the equipment etc.

    >> As for point 3, I can prove (in fact I have proved) cover up and conflicts of interest regarding studies about bird mortality at wind farms. Friends of mine, who are working on the health angle, could prove to you the same corruption (call it conspiracy if you like, as in this world money creates thousands of “conspiracies” everyday) regarding infrasound emitted by wind turbines and its effect on people.

    >> And as we all know here on WUWT, the biggest “conspiracy” of all is that of global warming, which is muting into climate change, and would mute into global cooling if temperatures suddenly dropped and kept dropping (which they will do, starting this year, when El Niño tapers off).

    >> When scientists, whole universities, and the media can be bought, the biggest lies can be told thousands of times, and the public will believe them. Now don’t ask me to make a presentation on all these things. I haven’t got the time. I am busy enough fighting wind industry stooges all over the place.

  44. Willis,

    On March 12, 2016 at 3:35 am you wrote:

    “What I don’t believe is that people are affected by infrasound from wind turbines “

    >> So, I directed you to the Waubra Foundation, which is at the cutting edge of the worldwide fight to help wind farm victims get recognized. But in another post on March 14, 2016 at 12:48 am , you evidenced a misunderstanding as you thought you would find on their site studies about whales. No, I am sorry if I did not explain myself clearly. What you will find on http://waubrafoundation.org.au/ is the best available proof that wind turbines emit infrasound that makes some neighbors sick, really sick. And as co-founder of a group of windfarm victims in France, I can vouch personally that their suffering is real.

    Continuing with your post of March 14, 2016 at 12:48 am you wrote:

    “If your sonar is blown out by loud noise, you’re more likely to run aground nearby.“

    >> This is not self-evident. Your sonar could be just damaged, not “blown out”. And the pain may be going crescendo. Did you ever have severe ear-pain? After 24 – 36 hours, it becomes unbearable.
    Hence the strandings, IMHO.

    “Second, sound in the open ocean falls off as the square of the distance. “

    >> I was led to believe the opposite. Aren’t whales supposed to communicate over many miles? Isn’t the New Navy sonar so powerful it can be heard across the ocean? (see the quote and reference in my article, the one you criticized).

    >> Then you go on repeating your demand that I provide you with a study proving my point etc.
    As I said, my theory is that air guns or pile-driving-bangs from wind farms under construction in the North Sea damaged the ears and/or sonars of the 29 sperm whales that stranded in Jan-Feb 2016, and those of the 20-odd whales that stranded in Scotland in 2012. Severe pain is what made them seek to get their heads out of the water, hence the beachings.

    I don’t believe these intelligent animals would either willingly commit suicide, or unwittingly run aground on a beach. As you rightly pointed out, orcas catch seals on the beach, and if I may add, dolphins catch fish by corraling them up the mud banks of Chesapeake Bay, where they go snap them up, their bodies half way on land. By the way, whales never run aground on rocks. Always on beaches, sand bars or mud flats. I would say they choose a comfortable place where they can rest their heads out of the water, to ease the pain. But then comes a receding tide, and their body weight slowly suffocates them.

    >> This is my theory, and this report comforts me in my thoughts:
    https://iwc.int/2008-mass-stranding-in-madagascar

    >> Regarding the operating phase of wind turbines, we’d need to measure underwater infrasound and seismic vibrations emitted by the new, giant 8 MW wind machines. It’s a daunting task that hasn’t been done. But it is clear to me that whales and dolphins don’t need more factors of stress where they live. BTW, have you seen the latest news? The US govt is funding research into a 2,200 feet tall, 50 MW wind turbine http://www.latimes.com/business/technology/la-fi-cutting-edge-windmills-20160313-story.html

    Best regards

    Mark

  45. Mark, I give up. I have asked you three times for the following:

    1. A scientific study that shows that wind farm generated underwater infrasound is strong enough to be an issue, and
    2. A scientific study that shows that infrasound of whatever power your scientific study says wind farms generate has an effect on whales, and
    3. A study, article, or other serious analysis that provides some evidence for the giant wind-farm underwater infrasound conspiracy.”

    I haven’t gotten one study on any of those.

    Any time you want to join the scientific revolution and back up your underwater windmill infrasound claim with some actual science, let me know. Because up to date, all we have are your earnest exhortations about windmills and whales, and I am a man for data. Facts. Studies of observations. Measurements of sound levels. Observations of windmills changing whale behavior.

    You have given us none of that. Instead, you give us things like this:

    As I said, my theory is that air guns or pile-driving-bangs from wind farms under construction in the North Sea damaged the ears and/or sonars of the 29 sperm whales that stranded in Jan-Feb 2016, and those of the 20-odd whales that stranded in Scotland in 2012.

    That’s a great theory, but you have absolutely no information to back it up. We don’t know whether there was even pile driving in that area at that time. You haven’t given us data on piledriving in the rest of the ocean. You haven’t provided information on the noise created by pile driving. It’s all just a brilliant theory, but it is totally devoid of any observational support of any kind. Yes, there are windmills in the North Sea.Yes, whales beach themselves in the North Sea. And your theory may actually connect them, and it might actually be valid.

    But without evidence, you are a thousand miles from establishing even a correlation, much less a causation, and you’re not moving towards your goal.

    I invite you to come back when you do have some actual scientific info on whales and windmills … but until then, I’m not interested in whether you are right that infrasound from windmills is causing worldwide ereptile dysfunction in the unsuspecting populace, or whatever it is you think they cause.

    Instead, I’m interested in whales and windmills.

    All the best,

    w.

  46. Willis,

    You wrote:

    “I have asked you three times for the following: …” (studies proving that wind farms are dangerous for whales)

    >> You’re being repetitive. Worse: as I have replied to your request at least twice, what you are telling us is that you don’t care if I reply or not, you’ll just keep repeating your mantra. That’s downright dishonest, intellectually speaking.

    “We don’t know whether there was even pile driving in that area at that time. “

    >> Being intellectually dishonest again! In the 2012 Scotland beachings quoted in my article*, we know that surveying had been going on in the Firth of Forth shortly before the beachings occurred. It was wind farm related, and air guns were used.

    >> Dishonest too, your wriggling away from embarrassing errors you make, such as when you are confusing audible sound and infrasound. Or when you say that sound and infrasound (it’s the same to you) rapidly dissipate in water, when we know the contrary to be true, that whales communicate through many miles of water, and that potent Navy sonars can be heard hundreds, if not thousands of miles away (documented in my article). Heck, the wind industry itself acknowledged that their pile driving can be heard up to 50 miles underwater!

    >> You are defending wind farms by quoting a study from windfarm-friendly Aarhus University, pretending that the said study has measured infrasound emitted by wind turbines underwater. When I reply that it hasn’t, you change the subject.

    >> When I refer you to independent studies appearing on the Waubra Foundation website, you dismiss them by saying you only care about effects of wind turbines on whales, not on people. When I refer you to a well-studied mass stranding event that occurred in 2008 in Madagascar, and which offers clues about man made noise and possibly infrasound on whale beachings, you ignore it and choose to close the debate instead.

    “It’s all just a brilliant theory,” you say of my article. (1)

    >> Well yes, I did say it was only a theory, a hypothesis that needs to be verified. And thank you for calling it “brilliant”. But even as you recognized its quality, you are shooting the messenger, as if theories were not at the origin of progress in science.
    It’s intellectual dishonesty at work, again.

    Have a nice day

    Mark

    (1) the article I co-authored with Paul Driessen: https://wattsupwiththat.com/2016/03/03/are-vibrations-from-offshore-wind-turbine-farms-killing-whales/

  47. WCFN March 15, 2016 at 8:44 pm

    Willis,

    You wrote:

    “I have asked you three times for the following: …” (studies proving that wind farms are dangerous for whales)

    >> You’re being repetitive. Worse: as I have replied to your request at least twice, what you are telling us is that you don’t care if I reply or not, you’ll just keep repeating your mantra. That’s downright dishonest, intellectually speaking.

    Thanks, Mark. If that is the case I’ve not been able to find them. Could you please repost the two links to the studies that you say you’ve provided above, as they’ve gone right past me.

    Regards,

    w.

  48. Willis,

    In reply to your request, I said it would take a budget of, say, $40 million to verify my theory. At least I have the merit of proposing a novel hypothesis, ie that whales and dolphins beach themselves to rest their ears and brains out of the water, to ease the pain. Then, the low tide traps them, and they die.

    Causes of the pain may be natural or man-made. Among the latter, the offshore wind industry (air guns and pile-driving).

    Regards

    Mark

    • Mark, in response to my request for data to back up your hypothesis, you say it will take $40 million dollars to provide data.

      Um … er … OK.

      It’s been great, but without data your flights of fantasy are less than useful. Let me suggest to you that if you wish to have a hope of having the hypothesis ever accepted, that you investigate the data that already exists out there.

      For example, there are hydrophones all over the world that record underwater sounds. If the ocean periodically gets so loud in the low frequencies (or any frequencies) as to injure living animals, there must be recordings of whatever that noise might be.

      And there certainly are records of the known underwater eruptions. You could see if you could match up the eruptions with whale strandings.

      Then there are earthquakes. Undersea earthquakes are routinely recorded by seismographs all over the planet. Seems like that would be a natural, lots of data. Get undersea earthquake records and compare them to whale strandings.

      Then there is lightning … Thanks to the satellites, we now know the areas where it is more and less common. Are those the same areas where whales strand?

      What you need to do is what I had to do when I came up with my hypothesis that emergent phenomena act to keep the global temperature within a very narrow range (e.g. ± 0.3°C over the 20th century). I had to go and root through piles and piles of evidence, and think about just where and how I might come up with observations, any observations, that would support my hypothesis. And in the end I’ve found a significant pile of said evidence.

      Your problem is that at present all you are doing is waving your hands and saying it might be underwater volcanoes … or lightning strikes … or infrasound from wind farms … or air guns … or sonar …

      And yes, you might be correct, it might be loud underwater noises that are causing whales to beach. But it might also be any one of half a dozen other equally probable causes.

      In addition, you are not doing your cause any good by your refusal to recognize and discuss the scientific evidence that is actually out there. I have given you three scientific studies, one of which was an meta-analysis of all of the studies of underwater sound from wind farms. All of them came to the same conclusion—at its loudest, infrasound from wind farms barely makes it out of the background.

      Now, you think you’ve refuted these studies by casting shade on the authors … sorry, while that might work on the alarmist side, skeptics know that all that matters is whether the study is sound or not. Without evidence to back you up, whether you think there is a windfarm conspiracy doesn’t matter any more than where the authors work. All that matter is whether their findings are valid.

      I’m left with scientific studies from all over the world saying windfarms make little infrasound on one hand … and on the other hand, your uncited, unsubstantiated claims of a giant worldwide conspiracy to muffle the reports of underwater windfarm infrasound. (You like that? Muffle the reports of sound? An aural trifecta … but I digress.)

      And given a choice between the cited referenced scientific studies, and your claims of a global underwater infrasound conspiracy … while I laud your efforts on behalf of whales, I’m still gonna go for the studies …

      Best regards to you, and seriously, I do think there is evidence out there to support or falsify your theory, and I wish you the best in the search.

      w.

  49. Willis,

    You keep skirting the issue of air guns and pile-driving, which is central.

    Regarding the operating phase of wind farms, you say “All of them (studies) came to the same conclusion—at its loudest, infrasound from wind farms barely makes it out of the background.!”
    But these studies are about audible sound, not infrasound. How many times must I correct you on that?

    You’re trying to kill the messenger of a new theory because it doesn’t square with existing studies commissioned by the climate-industrial complex. Hmm… !

    BW

    Mark

    • WCFN March 17, 2016 at 7:46 pm

      Willis,

      You keep skirting the issue of air guns and pile-driving, which is central.

      You have not provided a scrap of data implicating either air guns or pile driving in whale beachings, so to date there is nothing to “skirt”. Put up some data and we can discuss it.

      Regarding the operating phase of wind farms, you say “All of them (studies) came to the same conclusion—at its loudest, infrasound from wind farms barely makes it out of the background.!”
      But these studies are about audible sound, not infrasound. How many times must I correct you on that?

      Now you are simply making things up. I quoted the dang studies for you upthread, and I’ll do it again (emphasis mine):

      5 CONCLUSIONS

      Infrasound from wind turbines is below the audible threshold and of no consequence.

      • Low frequency noise is normally not a problem, except under conditions of unusually turbulent inflow air.

      • The problem noise from wind turbines is the fluctuating swish. This may be mistakenly referred to as infrasound by those with a limited knowledge of acoustics, but it is entirely in the normal audio range and is typically 500Hz to 1000Hz. It is difficult to have a useful discourse with objectors whilst they continue to use acoustical terms in­correctly. This is unfortunate, as there are wind turbine installations which may have noise problems.

      • It is the swish noise on which attention should be focused, in order to reduce it and to obtain a proper estimate of its effects. It will then be the responsibility of legislators to fix the criterion levels, However, although the needs of sensitive persons may influence decisions, limits are not normally set to satisfy the most sensitive

      The paper is worth a close read. Or you could look at the study by IOP, which says:

      Infrasound (1–20 Hz) from wind turbines is not audible at close range and even less so at distances where residents are living. There is no evidence that infrasound at these levels contributes to perceived annoyance or other health effects.

      And here’s from a third study which looked at all known windmill infrasound measurements:

      Abstract
      A critical survey of all known published measurement results of infrasound from wind turbines has been made. The survey indicates that wind turbines of contemporary design with an upwind rotor generate very faint infrasound with a level far below the threshold of perception even at a rather short distance. From considerations on propagation and transmission of infrasound it is concluded that infrasound from such upwind turbines can be neglected when evaluating the environment effects of wind turbines.

      Notice something about those quotations? EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM SPECIFICALLY SAID INFRASOUND, so your claim that

      But these studies are about audible sound, not infrasound. How many times must I correct you on that?

      is simply nonsense. Do you even read the quotations I’m posting?

      And do you realize how asinine and stupidly patronizing you look when you get all snippy about “correcting me”, when you obviously haven’t even bothered to read what I quoted?

      You go on to say …

      You’re trying to kill the messenger of a new theory because it doesn’t square with existing studies commissioned by the climate-industrial complex. Hmm… !

      Hogwash. I’m trying to get you to back up your theory with supporting data, and pointing out that without supporting data a hypothesis isn’t worth a bucket of warm spit. Wake up, I’m not your enemy. I’m trying to HELP you by encouraging you to find the data to support your theory.

      Regards,

      w.

  50. Willis,

    Sorry if I sounded patronizing, but you’re not innocent either in that respect.
    Anyway, let’s get on…

    You wrote: “You have not provided a scrap of data implicating either air guns or pile driving in whale beachings, so to date there is nothing to “skirt”.”

    >> Incorrect. The article Paul and I quoted about the 2012 beachings in Scotland clearly mentions surveying with air guns for a wind farm project in the Firth of Forth, a couple of days before the beachings. Now, don’t ask me for more data than that at this stage of the game. I may, or may not, have more time to invest into the subject later on.

    >> The Guardian aired a ridiculous theory to whitewash wind farms, one that isn’t supported by one iota of evidence. We denounced that in our article, proposing another theory. We are more than justified to do so, as we have at least some circumstantial evidence (the 2012 beachings). Our purpose was NOT to write a scientific paper, but a press article informing the public that there are different opinions as to why those whales beached in a huge wind farm zone. We quoted some studies and articles to support our opinion, but I repeat, we are NOT scientists, and this is NOT a scientific paper. It is in fact a rebuttal of the Guardian’s article.

    “… you obviously haven’t even bothered to read what I quoted”

    >> Wrong. YOU haven’t read my replies to what you quoted, eg:
    you quote: “• Infrasound from wind turbines is below the audible threshold and of no consequence.”
    >> This is given in the Conclusions. If you read the Methodology, you’ll find they did not bother to measure infrasound. And I told you before something along these lines: saying that infrasound is below the audible threshold is a tautology, and arguing that because of that it is of no consequence is like saying that Ultra Violet light can’t be seen therefore it isn’t harmful. Yet it can burn your skin to a toast.

    >> The two other quotes from the other studies use the same inane argument. They only care for audible sound. It it’s not audible, they pretend, it’s not worth bothering about, let alone measure it. These silly arguments attract the same answer as above (the example of the UV’s)

    Best wishes

    Mark

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