"News Fit to Transmit in the Post Cassini Flyby Era"
Is Low Frequency Sonar Blowing Away Dolphins and Whales?
"In more than a dozen instances dating back to the 1960s,
whales have stranded themselves on the beaches and
sometimes died at the time of naval training exercises
miles away using midfrequency active sonar. An unprecedented
stranding of 16 beaked and minke whales in the Bahamas in 2000
brought worldwide attention to military sonar. A NOAA investigation
concluded that a Navy testing maneuver using midfrequency sonar was
the likely cause. Necropsies found signs of brain hemorrhaging,
which is consistent with injury from sound."
-- San Francisco Chronicle, 12/13/04, front page
In early 2000 an affiliate CBS TV (Boston) news station reported that 100 dolphins had beached
off the Florida keys and twenty dolphins died. Flyby News contacted rescuers and commented
concerns that it was caused by active low frequency sonar used by the U.S. Navy.
We encouraged biopsy tests around ears of the mammals for hemorrhaging signs.
US Navy Admits Its Sonar Killed Whales
"The U.S. Navy and the National Marine Fisheries Service
have released a report acknowledging the role that the Navy's
experimental sonar played in the deaths of 17 marine mammals
in the Bahamas [March 2000].. The report is the agency's first
official admission that sonar may contribute to whale beachings."
Updated FN Archives:
November 12, 2008Court rules for Navy in dispute over sonar, whales
February 16, 2007 - Item 3Navy to continue sonar training
December 29, 2006 - Item 3Stop Navy Noise – January 10th Hearing
May 2, 2006 - Item 3Navy Sonar and Mass Dolphin Stranding
January 12, 2006 - Item 2Protect Whales and other Marine Life from Navy's Sonar
October 21, 2005 - Item 3US Navy sued over dolphin-stranding sonar!
May 10, 2005 - Item 5Sign on to UN Ocean Noise Petition
March 6, 2005 - Item 1Whales, dolphins, now under attack - LFAS sonar blasts!
July 26, 2004 - Item 3Death of whales linked to NATO navy exercise
October 13, 2003 - Item 4Study Says Sonar linked to death of whales
May 24, 2003 - Item 4Defending Our Environment and Health from the US Military * LFA: House & Senate Pass Versions of Military Exemptions
March 13, 2003 - Item 6Pentagon Seeks Freedom to Pollute Land, Air and Sea
November 17, 2002 - Item 4Navy's Sonar and Protecting Marine Life
November 5, 2002 - Item 4For Whales' Sake, Judge Halts Sonar
August 8, 2002 - Item 6ENS - New Sonar System Could Deafen Marine Mammals
July 30, 2002 - Item 2Massive Worldwide Whale Beachings
July 20, 2002 - Item 2Navy Wins OK for New Sonar
May 8, 2002 - Item 2Can Navy sonar hurt whales?
April 18, 2002 - Item 4Navy Sonar Controversy Coming to a Head
June 1, 2000 - Item 1Court Ruling to Stop Navy's LFAS Experiments
May 14, 2001 - Item 2Navy testing whales' hearing level,
January 8, 2001 - Item 3Information and Action to Stop Low Frequency Active Sonar Blasts for Ocean-Life
For more resources, visit:
Send a message to the secretary general of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization
and to NATO ambassadors, urging their member countries to stop deploying
high-powered sonar systems in sensitive whale habitats around the world.
Call on NATO to take immediate steps to protect
marine mammals from deadly sonar.
National Geographic Video - The Bahamas Incident:
Stop LFAS Worldwide!
Insist that people be told the truth about LFAS
and other high intensity sonars. For more information:
Stop LFAS Worldwide Network
1556 Halford Ave., Box 322
Santa Clara, CA 95051
Recommended for breaking news on this topic:
Stop LFAS Listserve
Whales and sonar -- Under water, no one can hear you scream
Feb 28th 2002 | NEW YORK
From The Economist
The American navy may soon have a whale of a problem
IT MIGHT offer a plot for a Hollywood blockbuster. The usual suspects are present: evil military types, a plucky band of environmentalists and a cast of loveable animals fighting for their survival. The story is spoilt, though, by the fact that the would-be heroes of the drama (earnest biologists trying to make the truth heard over the political fray) are still off in a corner arguing with each other over the scientific evidence.
The loveable animals in question are the world's whales. At stake is the American navy's use of a new form of sonar. For the past two years, it has been trying to get permission to deploy low-frequency active sonar (LFAS), a system designed to hunt for very quiet submarines. But the frequency range of LFAS (100-500Hz) is the same as that used by baleen whales (blue, grey, fin and humpback (the most charismatic species) in their songs. Biologists worry that LFAS might thus damage these whales in some way. That would make its use illegal under an American law from which not even the navy is exempt. In the next couple of months, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), the agency responsible for protecting the welfare of marine mammals, is due to announce whether it will let the navy deploy the new device. It's decision, one way or the other, is sure to infuriate somebody.
Sounding the depths
The reach of the proposed system is remarkable. Because of the distance that low-frequency sound waves can travel under water, a set of four ships emitting sound at 235 decibels could monitor 80% of the world's oceans for submarines. But it is precisely that reach which, from the whales' point of view, might be worrying. So, in 1997 and 1998, the navy gathered data on the response of whales to an LFAS test array. Kurt Fristrup, a marine biologist at Cornell University who helped to conduct this study, says humpback whales exposed to LFAS altered the lengths of their songs slightly, but resumed normal calling a few hours afterwards. Grey whales exposed to a test source in the middle of their migration path altered their routes to avoid it, but once the source was moved out of the migration corridor and further into the ocean, they appeared to ignore it.
That does not sound much to worry about, and in any case, the navy says the system can be made safe. It has been designed to switch off as soon as a broadcasting ship comes within 1km of a whale. At this distance the animal would hear the sonar at a volume of 180 decibels, which the navy says will cause no harm.
Some whale experts, however, disagree with the navy's boffins. Lack of alteration does not imply lack of injury, according to Naomi Rose, a marine biologist at the Humane Society, an American animal-welfare charity. The animals could have been disturbed or even partially deafened, but their mating and migrating activities may have been too important for them to change their patterns of behaviour. More pertinently, the navy's test array broadcast at a maximum level of 155 decibels. That is roughly 0.3% of the power of the 180-decibel cut-off point that the operational system would have.
Meanwhile, greens are fretting not only about the whales, but also about the vigour of the agency appointed to protect them, which they fear is the victim of "regulatory capture". According to Michael Jasny of the National Resources Defence Council, an environmental lobby group, the best available science has shown that LFAS causes "severely adverse effects" in marine mammals. "The NMFS would have to tie itself in knots to come up with a determination supporting the navy."
Dr Fristrup, though, doubts if more studies and more tests could assuage the fears of whale-lovers. Certain groups, he says, "oppose LFAS deployment on principle: their positions are clearly not susceptible to change based on any scientific evidence that can be developed."Article from The Economist
Mark J. Palmer
International Marine Mammal Project
Earth Island Institute
300 Broadway, Suite 28
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 788-3666 x139
(415) 788-7324 (fax)
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