A research team intends to catch a dozen young minke whales off the coast of Norway and use sensors on their skin to measure their brain reactions to sounds.
The research team conducting the experiment says they want to understand what types of man-made ocean sounds affect whales, since man-made sounds can affect an animal’s hearing and behavior, and cause stress.
“We have essentially no knowledge of their hearing, and it is important for noise regulators to know what type of noise could affect them,” Petter Kvadsheim, senior scientist at the Norwegian Defense Research Institute (FFI), told CNN. He added that the team will not test the animals’ noise tolerance or behavior to noise.
“We expose them to the lowest noise they can hear to find their hearing threshold, using electrophysiological methods developed for use in newborns,” said Kvadsheim, co-leader of the experiment. He added that the experiment is still ongoing.
“Little is known about stunning or stunning wild whales and dolphins and is therefore rarely attempted. The data available suggest that stunning baleen whales in the wild could be life-threatening, “said UK organization Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC), which led the letter, said in a separate statement.
“We already know a lot from observational studies about how high-amplitude man-made noise affects baleen whales, so the proposed research is not only dangerous and unethical, but redundant,” they added.
Ole Aamodt, head of the veterinary division of the Norwegian Food Safety Authority, said the experiment was “moderate” in severity.
“Methods on animals that are likely to experience moderate pain, suffering, or suffering, or long-term mild pain, suffering or suffering in the animals, and methods that are likely to cause moderate well-impairment” – the nature or general condition of the animals are considered to be of moderate severity classified, “said Aamodt.
“There is nothing to suggest that this experiment should be considered serious,” he added.
“We assume that the purpose of the experiment is well described and justified and that this justifies the stress on the animals,” he said.
But in a concerned statement, the 50 international scientists who signed the letter said this was an “understatement,” adding, “This process risks causing significant stress on the whale, causing panic and a dangerous situation for whales and humans creates. ”
“We went through a very thorough planning and approval process to keep the risk to a minimum,” Kvadsheim told CNN.
“We expect the animals will experience some level of stress, but we have veterinarians who monitor their health and welfare throughout the procedure. When animals are in danger or distress, they are released, ”he added.