So Long and Thanks For The Plankton, Or Sizzling Bacon


If you’re into ‘save the whales and hug a tree’, then The “Church of the Apocalyptic Kiwi” has some FUD on the Whales vs. Navy Sonar situation and how the gov’t got smacked down, at least temporarily.

On the one hand, there’s the whole national defense thing and the easiest, bestest way to find those enemy subs sneaking up on your ports is to use active sonar. If the whales don’t like it they’ll quickly learn to stay away from this ‘bad place’.

On the other hand, I used to work on submarines. At times we would play war games and the skimmer battlegroup that would basically be on top of you for hours or days on end going active with their sonar, training they called it. Torture, I called it.

Even though they easily detect you in that situation when we’re forced to remain on station and play the ‘rabbit’, the skimmer Sonar Techs got lots of good real world practice to see what the sonar returns look like with a boat at different depths, with different salinity and different water temperature while we moved through the different layers.

However, while the skimmers are going active on their sonar constantly it would drive me batshit. The incessant ringing and reverberation for hour after hour was ridiculous, keeping me from sleeping or concentrating. It was akin to something like the Chinese Water Torture where just a little bit wouldn’t bother you but that little bit applied every 2-3 seconds non-stop makes you want to pull your hair out.

Here’s some sample audio of an active sonar:

Sidebar: On the topic of undersea audio, in case you’ve never heard this before, Snapping Shrimp sound like sizzling bacon when listening through passive sonar. People never believe me until i point it out like here & here. I found those at this audio gallery on the Alpheus heterochaelis (snapping shrimp) page.

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I'm an eternal optimist, geek of many areas, entrepreneur, coder, love RVs, cats and nuclear submarines.

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