Canada mil­i­tary probes mys­te­ri­ous Arc­tic ping­ing noise

Malta Independent - - SCIENCE -

The Cana­dian mil­i­tary has in­ves­ti­gated a mys­te­ri­ous ping­ing sound com­ing from the sea floor in a re­mote re­gion of the Arc­tic, of­fi­cials have said.

The strange noise is re­ported by lo­cal peo­ple to have fright­ened an­i­mals away over the past few months.

A mil­i­tary air­craft con­ducted var­i­ous multi-sen­sor searches in the area, of­fi­cials said on Fri­day.

But the mil­i­tary says it is so far un­able to ex­plain the cause of the “acous­tic anom­alies”.

“The [air­craft] crew did not de­tect any sur­face or sub-sur­face con­tacts,” the mil­i­tary said in a state­ment re­leased to the BBC.

“The only thing the crew did ob­serve were two pods of whales and six wal­ruses in the area of in­ter­est.”

A spokesman in the department of na­tional de­fence in Ottawa said the cause of the ping­ing noise - which lo­cals say can even be heard through the hulls of boats - re­mains a mystery.

The sound, some­times also de­scribed as a “hum” or a “beep”, has been heard through­out the sum­mer in Fury and He­cla Strait, leg­isla­tive assem­bly mem­ber Paul Quassa told CBC, about 120km north-west of the ham­let of Igloo­lik.

The area is a nar­row chan­nel of water in Nu­navut, which is the new­est, largest and least pop­u­lous ter­ri­tory of Canada, lo­cated next to Green­land.

“It’s one of the ma­jor hunt­ing ar­eas in the sum­mer and winter be­cause it’s an area of open water sur­rounded by ice that’s abun­dant with sea mam­mals,” Mr Quassa said.

“And this time around, this sum­mer, there were hardly any. And this be­came a sus­pi­cious thing.”

An­other MLA mem­ber was quoted by CBC as say­ing the area is nor­mally a mi­gra­tory route for bow­head whales and var­i­ous kinds of seals.

“But this sum­mer there was none,” he said.

Var­i­ous ex­pla­na­tions for the sound have been put for­ward by the Cana­dian press:

It is a sonar sur­vey con­ducted by a min­ing com­pany

It is be­ing gen­er­ated on pur­pose by Green­peace to scare wildlife away from the rich hunt­ing ground

It is caused by mil­i­tary sub­marines

How­ever, lo­cal min­ing com­pa­nies in­sist they do not work in the area, Green­peace has de­nied it is re­spon­si­ble and the mil­i­tary say no sub­marines - ei­ther do­mes­tic or for­eign - are known to have op­er­ated in the area.

“The cause of the pings re­mains mired in mystery,” the de­fence spokesman said.

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