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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Stranded Whales

WASHINGTON -- Intense underwater noise or explosions caused a mass stranding of beaked whales in the Bahamas last spring while the U.S. Navy was conducting tests in the area, federal marine specialists said Wednesday.

The report to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration does not explicitly conclude that Navy sonar tests or explosions caused the deaths, but it does say the hemorrhages found in or around the animals' ears are consistent with the effects of a "distant explosion, or an intense acoustic event."

The findings are the first ever to link either distant noise or a faraway explosion with a whale stranding, said Darlene Ketten, an auditory specialist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, who helped conduct necropsies on six of the whales for NOAA. She called the conclusions "a red flag" and "a reason for concern."