科學家已發現，高強度聲納與鯨魚和海豚致命擱淺有關。在80年代中後期，一些大規模的擱淺被認為與海軍在加那利群島(Canary Islands)的活動有關。在之後的1992至1998年間，28頭熱氏中喙鯨(Gervais' beaked whales)擱淺在美國東岸的佛羅里達州和麻薩諸塞州之間，之後是北約在2002年9月進行低頻聲納測試後，更大規模的擱淺事件。
With noisy human activity on the world's oceans disrupting the well-being of marine creatures, the United Nations is hosting a meeting to launch a decade-long investigation into the problem.
"Many marine species rely mainly on sound as a source of environmental information, in much the same way as human beings rely on their eyesight," the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO, said of the study. The launch meeting will be held at the agency's Paris headquarters from August 30 to September 1.
Marine scientists and representatives from the private sector and military establishments will use the meeting to plan the decade-long International Quiet Ocean Experiment aimed at filling the knowledge gaps so that management of ocean noise can be "more informed and effective," UNESCO said.
"Although very little research exists to prove any links, there is a growing suspicion that increasing noise levels, and some sounds in particular, are altering the behavior of marine animals and perhaps even reducing their capacity to perform normal life functions such as finding food, seeking out mates or avoiding predators," UNESCO said in a statement announcing the new research project.
Ocean noise cannot be contained within localized areas, so its impacts affect many aspects of marine life over vast areas of ocean.
In December 2008, the International Fund for Animal Welfare issued a report, "Ocean Noise: Turn It Down," showing that the distance over which blue whales can communicate is down by 90 percent as a result of intensified noise levels.
Ship noise in the Pacific Ocean has doubled every decade over the past 40 years and the global shipping fleet is expected to double in size by 2025, after doubling between 1965 and 2003, the report calculates.
Airguns used in seismic surveys to identify undersea locations likely to bear oil or gas generate sounds that peak at up to 259 decibels.
There are 90 seismic survey ships in the world, the IFAW report states, and a quarter of them are in use on any given day.
In addition, there are an estimated 300 naval sonar systems worldwide able to generate pressure sound waves of more than 235 decibels. Pings this loud are over one billion times more intense than the 145 decibel upper limit deemed safe for humans.
Scientists have linked high intensity sonar with fatal strandings of whales and dolphins. In the mid to late 1980s, several mass strandings were thought to be associated with naval activities around the Canary Islands. Later, between 1992 and 1998, 28 Gervais' beaked whales were stranded along the U.S. East Coast between Florida and Massachusetts, followed by more mass strandings in September 2002 after NATO tested low frequency sonar.
"Despite the many unknowns that remain, it is apparent that noise pollution in the seas should be regarded as a fundamental threat to marine wildlife in general and whales and dolphins in particular," said Mark Simmonds, WDCS director of science and a member of the Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission since 1994. "It is important that this is recognised at both national and international levels and that every effort be made to address it."