[eli5] If a Whale’s “Sonar” can kill you why do people get close to Whales?


Hello, i’ve been taking a look at Sea Creatures and It stunned me that a whale’s ping/sonar is so loud that It can kill you (by blowing you from inside out iirc), so why divers are not afraid to swim near a Whale?

In: 3

Answer: two reasons

1. They usually only hit those higher 200db+ notes for a very small fraction of a second so it doesn’t last long enough to do much more damage than possible hearing damage

2. They way sound travels in water reduces its effects on you. Ie sound travels much faster in water so it passes you by fairly quickly. And water is denser than air so the decibel system is different from air. I believe it’s approximately 25 decibels less in water than it would be in air. So if 200 dBz would rupture your lungs and they are hitting 200 dBz it would actually be 175~dbs if you are submerged with them.

Because the premise that whales sonar is loud enough to do that is a false one based on a misunderstanding. Decibels are a relative scale, and the reference level for sound in water is different than in air. Whale sonar is not actually loud enough to kill.