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WATCH VIDEO of Military Sonar and LISTEN to its effects on whales and dolphins
original artwork by Christine Lamb Studios
There are no noise-cancelling headphones to stop the U.S. Navy's 235-decibel pressure waves of unbearable pinging and metallic shrieking. At 200 Db, the vibrations can rupture your lungs, and above 210 Db, the lethal noise can bore straight through your brain until it hemorrhages that delicate tissue. If you're not deaf after this devastating sonar blast, you're dead.
This is the real life of marine mammals destroyed by the U.S. Navy's all-out acoustic war on the world's oceans. The collateral damage of this high-intensity military sonar is shocking. But because all these millions of dying whales or dolphins are too often out of human sight, they're also out of mind. Only when cetaceans strand on land do we witness what orca researcher, Ken Balcomb, calls, this "acoustic holocaust." Military sonar so panics cetaceans that as they try to escape the sonic violence, they rise too quickly to the surface and die of "the bends."
Ken Balcomb has researched multi-generations of the resident orca pods in the Pacific Northwest. In March, 2000, Balcomb documented a mass stranding of predominantly deep-diving beaked whales off theBahamas that the Navy later finally admitted was a result of their LFA (Low-frequency Active sonar) tests. Balcomb told the Los Angeles Times, "sonar waves at certain frequencies might have resonated around the whale's ears, causing tissues to tear much as a wineglass will shatter at a particular pitch."
Scientific American calls military sonar, "rolling walls of noise." For the dolphins, whom researchers have documented as "self-aware," noting that they "call each other by name," this is a brutal and inhumane death sentence. For whales, such as the great blue, who can communicate over thousands of miles, such sonic stress affects reproduction and communication so much that some whales simply stop vocalizing. What happens to our oceans when the whales stop singing?
In the Navy's latest environmental impact statement draft, they admit that the sonar exercises planned for 2014-2018 may unintentionally "harm marine mammals 2.8 million times over five years." This estimate is up about 150,000 instances a year from their EIS statement of 2009-2013. Included in this estimate are two million incidents of "temporary hearing loss," and 2,000 are targeted for permanent hearing loss.
A deaf whale is a dead whale. Dr. Lindy Weilgart, sperm whale researcher at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia warns us "There are some technologies that simply should never be used. As a scientist -- and as a mother and fellow inhabitant of this fragile planet -- I am alarmed at this new threat to our oceans. The ocean gives us our air, our water, our food, and regulates our climate. The ocean literally enables human life."
Criticism of the Navy's sonar has intensified, even as the military has intensified their sonar tests.The main concern of scientists and environmentalists is that the Navy has not done enough environmental impact research and knows much too little about the devastation they're unleashing on our marine environment to proceed with such expanded target ranges.
The Navy has paid little heed to the scientists, the lawsuits, the public outcry, and the many media storms all protesting this risky technology. Even while sometimes admitting sonar's role in mass strandings -- like those in the Bahamas, Canary Islands, Pacific Northwest, Greece, and North Carolina -- the Navy has proceeded to garner federal permits to expand their sonar tests.
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