On Wednesday, as the navies of the U.S., Greece and Israel were engaging in war games off Crete, seven Cuvier's beaked whales died after they were stranded on nearby shores on the Cretan coast, likely driven there by disruptive underwater sonar.
Cuvier's beaked whales, recently in the news for their naming as the world's deepest-diving whales, are particularly sensitive to high-powered sonar which has been known to disrupt their dive patterns and incite strandings.
NRDC noted that this incident is far from unique:
For Greece, none of this is new. In 1996 and again in 1997, dozens of beaked whales of the same species turned up along the Peloponnesian coast; in 2011, they stranded on the island of Corfu as well as the east coast of Italy, across the Ionian Sea. In each case, navies were training with high-powered sonar in the area. Indeed, according to the Smithsonian Institution and International Whaling Commission, every beaked whale mass stranding on record everywhere in the world has occurred with naval activities, usually sonar, taking place in the vicinity.