The Canadian armed forces have sent a crew to investigate reports of a mysterious “pinging” sound that seemed to be coming from the seafloor.
Hunters in a remote community in the Canadian Arctic have become concerned about a pinging or beeping sound they say they’ve heard in the Fury and Hecla Strait, a channel of water that’s 120km (75 miles) northwest of the Inuit hamlet Igloolik.
Paul Quassa, a local politician, told CBC that the sound seems to be coming from the seafloor and is scaring animals away from a popular hunting area of open water surrounded by ice that is usually abundant with sea mammals.
“And this time around, this summer, there were hardly any. And this became a suspicious thing,” he said.
Several reports were passed to the military, which sent a CP-140 Aurora patrol aircraft to investigate on Tuesday under the mandate of Operation Limpid, a domestic surveillance program designed to “detect, deter, prevent, pre-empt and defeat threats aimed at Canada or Canadian interests.”
In a statement, Department of National Defence spokeswoman Ashley Lemire said: “The Canadian armed forces are aware of allegations of unusual sounds emanating from the seabed in the Fury and Hecla Strait in Nunavut. The aircrew performed various multi-sensor searches in the area, including an acoustic search for 1.5 hours, without detecting any acoustic anomalies. The crew did not detect any surface or subsurface contacts.
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“The crew did observe two pods of whales and six walruses in the area of interest.
“At this time, the Department of National Defence does not intend to do any further investigations.”
That hasn’t stopped people from theorizing about the source of the sounds, which have been variously attributed to the sonar surveys of local mining operations or Greenpeace activists.
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Mining companies use sonar to make detailed maps of the seafloor searching for offshore oil and gas. The sonar is known to disturb marine mammals such as whales and dolphins. However, the Baffinland Iron Mines Corporation, which has conducted sonar surveys nearby, told CBC it has no equipment in the water at this time.
Others believe that Greenpeace is creating the sound on purpose to scare wildlife away from Inuit hunters – an allegation Greenpeace denies.
Mysterious sounds tend to send people’s imaginations into overdrive. Earlier this year, a high-pitched flute-like noise kept people in Portland, Oregon, awake. The steady whistling noise had also been heard by residents several decades previously.
The sound appears to come from an island surrounded by fences that’s home to a steel plant. The secrecy surrounding the plant has led to wild and unfounded speculation that the sound comes from an alien aircraft or the construction of an underground tunnel by a billionaire.