A pinging noise in the arctic that has been heard by local people and scared animals over the past few months has scientists baffled. The Canadian military is investigating the mysterious phenomenon. The bizarre sound is in an area abundant with sea mammals – but this year, perhaps because of the weird pinging, most of them have gone.
A military airplane has carried out several multi-sensor searches in the area where the pinging sound was detected by humans. However, so far they are at a loss to explain what is causing these ‘acoustic anomalies’.
A pool in the thick sea ice of Fury & Hecla Strait. Theories regarding the source of the mysterious pinging sound that are frightening animals away range from submarines, mining company explorations, Greenpeace protecting wildlife from hunters, to an alien beacon that is communicating with ultra-intelligent extraterrestrials. (Image: adapted from expeditions.com)
According to Pau Quassa, a Nunavut Legislative Assembly member:
“The sound that has been heard in the area seems to be emitted from the seabed and underwater.”
“Our constituents as well as hunters and boaters have reported that the area in question is almost devoid of sea mammals and that hunting has been poor in the area for quite some time.”
Quassa added that the sound can be detected using audio equipment.
A sailboat travelling through the area last summer confirmed the bizarre sound with onboard sonar equipment and informed the community.
According to the Nanavut Research Institute and other regulatory agencies, no licenses for sound-emitting devices or permits had been issued for the region. Quassa said Premier Peter Taptuna’s office reported the phenomenon to the Department of National Defence in Ottawa.
Quassa said: “We will await the Department of National Defence review.”
Bowhead whales are known to pass through the area during their migration. However, experts say there is no way they could have produced those enigmatic pinging noises. (Image: Wikipedia)
Pinging unlikely to come from whales
Department of National Defence senior liaison Evan Koronewski said:
“The Department of National Defence has been informed of the strange noises emanating in the Fury and Hecla Strait area, and the Canadian Armed Forces are taking the appropriate steps to actively investigate the situation.”
BBC News quote the Canadian military as saying:
“The crew [of the aircraft] did not detect any surface or sub-surface contacts. The only thing the crew did observe were two pods of whales and six walruses in the area of interest.”
Canadian experts say that such a pinging sound would not be produced by whales.
In Ottawa, a spokesperson for the Department of National Defence said that they have no idea what the pinging noise is or where it comes from. It can even be heard through the hulls of ships, say locals.
The pinging sound has been detected in the Fury & Hecla Strait area, which connects the Gulf of Boothis on the west with Foxe Basin on the east. The Strait is named after HMS Hecla and HMS Fury, two former Royal Navy ships. (Image: Adapted from GoogleMaps)
Pinging, beep or hum
Locals have heard the sound, which is sometimes described as a ‘beep’ or ‘hum, throughout the whole of the summer in Hecla Strait and Fury, approximately 74 miles (120 kilometres) north-west of Igloolik, an Inuit hamlet in Foxe Basin, Qikiqtaaluk Region in Nunavut, northern Canada.
The area is a thin channel of water in Nunavut, which is the least populous territory of Canada.
The area – which consists of open water surrounded by ice – is used by local people for hunting in the summer and winter. It is abundant with sea mammals.
Local hunters commented on another mystery – this summer there were hardly any sea mammals in the area. No bowhead whales or seals were seen in the area this year.
According to Canadian newspapers and TV news stations, the mysterious pinging sound could be caused by:
– Military submarines. Canadian military sources say that no submarines from any nation have been operating in the area.
– Greenpeace, in order to scare wildlife away so that they are not killed by human hunters. Greenpeace insists that the noise has nothing to do with them.
– A mining company which has been conducting a sonar survey. Local mining companies, however, say they have not carried any work in the area.