On the morning of March 15, 2000, 17 beaked whales stranded themselves on beaches in the northern Bahamas. It was an terrible and extraordinary event: Beaked whales are the world’s deepest-diving mammals, and these creatures had spent most of their lives in deep undersea canyons. For even one to show up in shallow water would be extremely unusual, for 17 to strand was almost inconceivable
It just so happened that just a few feet away from one of the beaches lived Ken Balcomb, a beaked whale researcher who more than anyone in the world was equipped to find out what happened. Long before Mr. Balcomb started studying whales he had served two tours of duty in the Navy, where he’d done classified work with submarine-detecting sonar. He knew just how loud it could be, and in days following the stranding he photographed Navy destroyers in Bahamian waters
Mr. Balcomb had several of the dead whales’ heads sent for autopsies—and when they returned evidence of hemorrhages, he knew what happened. The whales had fled to shallow water to escape noise so concussively loud it burst blood vessels in their brains.
“I believe the Navy did it,” Balcomb soon announced at a press conference. With that began an epic legal and scientific battle to make the Navy admit what happened, and then to do something about it. Against all odds, it’s a battle in which Balcomb and environmentalists have been largely successful, winning commitments from the Navy to research sonar’s effects on whales and to consider them when planning training exercises"
Link to Original Source