Show Details

Seal Bombs

August 27, 2013

Underwater explosions scare sea lions away from commercial fishing operations. But the noise could be impacting whales and dolphins.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Seal bombs. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Sea lions compete with commercial fishing operations off the California Coast. (Susanne Bard)

(SFX: Underwater “seal bomb” explosions and humpback whale song)

These are the sounds of underwater bombs off the coast of California, set by fisherman to scare sea lions away from their catch. But if you listen carefully, you can also hear the call of a humpback whale.

(SFX: “seal bombs” and whales)

Scripps Institution of Oceanography whale biologist Simone Baumann-Pickering and her team document the blasts using underwater microphones.

SIMONE BAUMANN-PICKERING (Scripps Institution of Oceanography):

What we have been finding is that over the course of a week, we have have 6000 to 8000 explosions. And it goes on over months.

HIRSHON:

They think the explosions could impact whale and dolphin feeding behavior. The use of “seal bombs”, which resemble underwater firecrackers, is currently unregulated. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.