During the next five years, the Navy has plans to begin testing and training with sonar explosives that will threaten entire populations of marine wildlife off the East and Gulf coasts, Southern California, and Hawaii, according to the Natural Resource Defense Council.
It is expected that the Navy will kill nearly 1,000 whales and other marine mammals and seriously injure 13,000 others during these training exercises.
According to the NRDC, the Navy has refused to use common-sense precautions that would allow the United States to protect marine wildlife, specifically whales that are extremely sensitive to sonar technology, without compromising military readiness. As a result, the NRDC has filed a lawsuit against the Navy and is working with marine mammal activist and NRDC member Pierce Brosnan to attract attention to the issue.
Whales and other marine mammals use sound to locate food, migrate, communicate, and navigate their way through the world. Yet the Navy plans to blast ocean waters with nearly 300,000 hours of deafening mid-frequency sonar. As Brosnan says in the video, “In the darkened sea, a deaf whale is a dead whale.”
According to the NRDC, when a sonar blast or explosion thousands of times more powerful than a jet engine fills their ears, the results can be devastating – even causing whales’ internal organs to hemorrhage. For the next five years, the Navy wants to conduct a range of underwater explosions averaging one detonation every two minutes, many of which will occur in and around sensitive whale habitats where animals mate and feed.
Not only can the sonar cause death, injury, and deafness, other calamities like mass strandings can arise from these sonar blasts.
“The Navy should be putting vital whale habitat off limits to sonar and explosives during routine training,” says Brosnan in the video. “But they won’t do that unless you and I speak out right now.”
Now is your chance to speak out. Tell Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to direct the Navy to adopt commonsense safeguards that will protect marine mammals during routine training without compromising military readiness.
For more information about how sonar affects marine life, check out this post in The Good Human archives.