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Whales trapped in bay after fleeing sonar

Article published on the 2008-06-10 Latest update 2008-06-12 13:15 TU

Madagascar( Photo: N Catonné )

( Photo: N Catonné )

A mission is underway to rescue more than 100 whales that are trapped in Baie de Loza, in the north of Madagascar, after they swam through a narrow entrance. Some 30 have already died. Oil firm Exxon-Mobil is doing seismic surveys near the Bay, which it has stopped for now. echo-sounding, or sending pulses through water to search for oil. Echo-sounding, or sending pulses through water to search for oil, is a common practice used in oil exploration. Exxon-Mobil said it is not responsible for the whales becoming stranded.

"There is no such thing as direct proof in these particular cases. There never is," Dr. Paul Johnston, principal scientist with Greenpeace, told RFI.  

"But once the oil companies start doing seismic surveys, once they start using using scan sonar in a really big way, then we've come up with a number of instances where whales have run into difficulties, whales are stranded, whales are panicked. You have to make the link, really," he added.

In related news, at least 60 dolphins have died of exhaustion and injuries over the past week after they got stuck in a mangrove swamp in the port of Antsohihy, northwest Madagascar.

An international rescue effort is also underway in that area, and some 30 dolphins have been saved so far. An aerial survey conducted Monday shows some 60 dolphins still caught in the water there.