Marine Mammals Win Against U.S. Military

Killer whales. (Image: Pixabay/ CC0 Public Domain)
Killer whales. (Image: Pixabay/ CC0 Public Domain)

It’s a win for dolphins, whales, and other marine mammals off the coast of Southern California and Hawaii. A federal judge has stopped the U.S. Navy from conducting dangerous and disruptive war games there.

Under its 5-year plan for training and testing, the Navy is permitted to harm whales, dolphins, and other marine mammals nearly 9.6 million times while conducting high-intensity sonar exercises and underwater detonations, according to a statement from the NRDC. The impacts include millions of instances of temporary hearing loss and significant disruptions in vital behaviors, such as habitat abandonment, as well as permanent hearing loss, permanent injury, and more than 150 deaths.

Navy sonar blowing the brains out of whales and dolphins:

The judge noted the stunning number of marine mammals expected to be hurt by these underwater war games, including endangered whales and sea turtles, “makes no sense given the size of the ocean area involved.” In short: It’s a big ocean and there is plenty of space for the Navy to practice without hurting vulnerable populations of marine mammals, Huffington Post said on their website.

The military uses explosives and ultra-loud sonar blasts during these types of training.

Scientists say these kinds of activities are linked to mass whale strandings, exploded eardrums, and even death.

Pierce Brosnan: Save whales, stop deadly Navy sonar:

The National Marine Fisheries Service had already identified that these areas needed protection. These areas with large populations of whales and dolphins around the Hawaiian Islands and off Southern California should have been made off-limits to any explosives, sonar, and other dangerous activities.

The U.S. District Court of Hawaii ruled that the National Marine Fisheries Service violated multiple requirements of the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act by allowing the Navy’s plan, reported the Wisconsin Gazette.

Sonar & whales, the Pentagon channel:

“Searching the administrative record’s reams of pages for some explanation as to why the Navy’s activities were authorized by the National Marine Fisheries Service, this court feels like the sailor in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, who, trapped for days on a ship becalmed in the middle of the ocean, laments: ‘Water, water everywhere, Nor any drop to drink,’” the court wrote in a 66-page opinion, The Wisconsin Gazette wrote.

Zak Smith, an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council’s marine mammal protection project, said: “Defenseless marine mammals are going deaf and hungry, and may die at the hands of our Navy. And the laws we have that are meant to limit such harms have been misused by the government,” NRDC said in a statement.

Sonar was being tested when whales were beached:

“Instead of downplaying the impacts on marine mammals—including endangered blue, fin, and humpback whales—the government should be doing more to protect them from these harmful activities.”

This is a huge win for marine mammals, and helps keep them out of harm’s way. Let’s hope that this will shift federal policies toward helping these marine mammals rather than killing them.

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