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Active sonar is the transmission of sound energy for the purpose of sensing the environment by interpreting features of received signals. People have developed sophisticated ways of using sound to probe the marine environment, including:

The extent to which human sonar systems may affect marine life depends critically on the system in question, the environments in which they are operated, and animals exposed to them. In certain conditions, it appears likely--if not certain--that mid-frequency military sonar has played some role in marine mammal stranding events. These further appear to be more likely to involve deep-diving marine mammal species in areas of complex, steep bottom bathymetry. However, there are many more unknowns than information regarding the certainty of these effects, and whether they are necessarily limited to these conditions.

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Updated: December, 2015