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Norway continues with a good experiment on whales despite protests

A research group intends to capture a dozen young minke whales off the Norwegian coast and use sensors placed on their skin to measure their brain response in response to sound.

The research team conducting the experiment says it is designed to understand the types of man-made marine noise that affect whales, as man-made sound can affect an animal’s hearing and behavior and cause stress.

“We have virtually no knowledge of their hearing, and it is important for noise regulators to know what kind of noise may affect them,” Petter Kvadsheim, chief researcher at the Norwegian Defense Research Institute (FFI), told CNN. He added that the team will not test the animals̵

7; noise tolerance or how they react to the sound behaviorally.

“We expose them to the lowest sound they can hear to find their hearing threshold using electrophysiological methods developed for use in newborns,” said Kvadsheim, co-lead researcher on the experiment. He added that the experiment is underway.

But 50 international researchers and veterinarians have called on Norway’s prime minister to cancel the trial, writing in an open letter that the catch and length of experiments “have significant potential to cause harm and stress, which could potentially result in catch myopathy. ” Capture myopathy is a non-infectious condition in wild and domestic animals where muscle damage is due to extreme exertion, struggle or stress and can be fatal.

“Little is known about soothing or stunning wild whales and dolphins, so it is rarely attempted. Available data indicate that baleen whale sedation in the wild can be life-threatening,” spearheaded UK-based Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC) for the letter, said in a separate statement.

“We already know a lot from observational studies on how man-made noise with high amplitude affects baleen whales, so the proposed research is not only dangerous and unethical, it is also redundant,” they added.

Young whales caught in London's Thames killed
The Norwegian Food Safety Authority, which approved the experiment, acknowledged that the experiment, which involves catching whales, storing them in a fence for 3-4 days and marking them, “involves moderate distress and discomfort for up to six hours.”

Ole Aamodt, head of the veterinary department at the Norwegian Food Safety Authority, said the experiment was considered to have “moderate” severity.

“Procedures on animals as a result of which the animals are likely to experience short-term moderate pain, suffering or distress, or prolonged mild pain, suffering or distress as well as procedures which are likely to cause moderate weakening of the well The nature or general condition of the animals is classified as moderately difficult, “said Aamodt.

“There is nothing to suggest that this experiment should be considered serious,” he added.

“We believe that the purpose of the experiment is well described and justified, and that this justifies the burden on the animals,” he said.

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But in a statement of concern, the 50 international researchers who signed the letter said that this is an “understatement” and added: “This process risks causing the whale significant stress leading to panic, creating a dangerous situation for both whales. and people. ”

More than 64,000 people have signed a petition calling for the experiment to be stopped.

“We have been through a very thorough planning and licensing process to reduce the risk to a minimum,” Kvadsheim told CNN.

“We expect the animals to experience some level of stress, but we have veterinarians who monitor their health and well-being throughout the procedure. If animals are in danger or distress, they are released,” he added.

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