The humming sound, apparently coming from the seafloor is alarming local hunters in Nunavut, northern Canada, as it seems to be scaring the marine mammals.
The mysterious pinging sound, described also as a "hum" and a "beep" has been reported in Fury and Hecia Strait. The passage is known for the presence of various types of seals and bowhead whales, marine species usually abundant in the well-known hunting region during winter and summer.
According to Paul Quassa, a member of the legislative assembly, the sound seems to be chasing away the animals.
"That's one of the major hunting areas in the summer and winter because it's a polynya, an area of open water surrounded by ice that's abundant with sea mammals. And this time around, this summer, there were hardly any. And this became a suspicious thing" Mr. Quassa explained,
"That passage is a migratory route for bowhead whales, and also bearded seals and ringed seals. There would be so many in that particular area. This summer there are none" said George Qulaut, another area expert.
The noise was reported by numerous people in the area, but no one knows where exactly is it coming from. Some people think the Baffinland Iron Mines Corporation may be responsible. The company is known for conducting sonar surveys of Steensby in cooperation with its Mary River Mine. However, the company officials said they are currently not performing any surveys in the region. Also, no known permits have been issued for any type of construction, blasting or hydrography work in the vicinity.
Quassa suspects the Greenpeace may be producing the sounds to scare the animals from the hunting areas: "We've heard in the past of groups like Greenpeace putting in some kinds of sonars in the seabed to get the sea mammals out of the way so Inuit won't be able to hunt them."
However, the ecologists deny the accusation, explaining they respect the Inuit hunting season, and would not disturb it in any way. The army forces are conducting their own investigation about the noise origin, but so far they still don't know what is going on.
"The Department of National Defence has been informed of the strange noises emanating in the Fury and Hecla Strait area, and the Canadian Armed Forces are taking the appropriate steps to actively investigate the situation," explained an army spokesperson.
Experts are worried the sound may impact the feeding of the animals in the area, and hopes the source of the mysterious sound will soon be identified.
Featured image: Nunavut, northern Canada, July 2013. Image credit: Mike Beauregard (Flickr-CC)