Kill Willy (and Flipper And Keiko And Shamu): U.S Navy Collateral Damage
If the United States Navy has its way, soon blasts of sound — second in intensity only to that of a nuclear bomb going off — will be routinely deployed throughout much of the world’s oceans.
Decibels of such lethal levels, produced by Low Frequency Active (LFA) sonar to help detect enemy “stealth” submarines, will directly threaten whales, dolphins and other sea creatures.
Caught at close range a blast of LFA is so deafening — capable of reaching 215 decibels (dBs) — that whales’ eardrums will burst, dolphins’ sinuses can explode, their brains and lungs hemorrhaging. At distances between 100 to 200 miles, where the dBs diminish to “only” 160, severe tissue damage still occurs. Deafness, disorientation, and other dysfunction can happen within 1,000 miles from the LFA source.
“The Navy keeps talking about the issue in terms of catastrophic noise that might kill sea mammals,” explains Michael Stocker, an acoustician and naturalist in the Bay Area who has been following the issue for a decade, “but imagine if your neighbor mowed his lawn 400 hours a month outside your window. It would seriously compromise your quality of life. Eventually you might kill him or you’d kill yourself, yet there would be no evidence that sound was the cause of the disaster….”
After reviewing the Navy’s 85-page Environmental Impact Statement, on July 15 the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) granted an exception from the Marine Mammal Protection Act, allowing the Navy to begin deployment within 30 days. Outraged by the potential threat to our oceans, on August 8, a federal lawsuit to halt the use of this technology was filed in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco by a coalition of groups led by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
“In their push to approve and deploy the LFA system, this administration ran roughshod over several of our most important environmental statutes,” explains Michael Jasny, senior policy analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council in Los Angeles. “Our suit simply asks that the Navy not be allowed to deploy the system while it is in violation of the law, a law which states that harm done to marine mammals would be “small” and occur in a limited area. The potential for harm in this case is so great, so uncertain, so global in its scope that LFAs simply falls outside these limits.”
Advocacy Groups Speak Up
The Ocean Mammal Institute (OMI) contends that the Navy’s report is rife with dozens of inaccuracies and falsehoods. For example, the Navy states that “LFA has been thoroughly tested by not only Navy scientists, but by independent marine biologists….” OMI retorts that all tests were conducted by scientists paid by the Navy, and that disturbing reports from an independent research team present during a test in Hawaii were entirely ignored.
“LFA was tested on only four species of whales, for a month each. And at 5000 times lower than what would actually be used,” explained Vivienne Verdon-Roe, co-founder of Seaflow, a grass roots environmental advocacy organization based in Marin. “The NMFS and the Navy claim extensive tests were done and the effects on marine life will be ‘negligible.’ But they have no clue what the long-term consequences of full-strength blasts will be on marine life.”
The hearing sense of whales and dolphins is highly developed, employing sound to search for food, evade danger, care for their young, communicate with mates, and to keep their pod together as they migrate. LFAs give every indication of seriously impeding those functions. Michael Stocker equates the power of the LFA to that of an equivalent land sound being generated in San Francisco: it would be heard all the way in Nashville, Tennessee. “All organisms between here and there would be subjected to the noise. All these sea creatures that rely on sound to survive, including our tuna fish sandwich, will be stressed out.”
Deep Sea Ocean Navigators
In violation of state and federal environmental laws, LFA was developed and tested secretly in the early 1980s. Consisting of 18 huge speakers — each the size of a bathtub hanging 200 feet into the water — the Navy claims they need active sonar to detect enemy submarines over long distances, and to communicate with US nuclear subs in deep seas where radio waves don’t penetrate. Only sound messages such as LFA travel through the ocean’s depths.
Below the oceans’ turbulent surface (at about 400 to 500 feet) lies a stable layer of deep water called the isothermal sound channel, capable of conveying sound over thousands of miles with little attenuation. Whales use this silent belt for navigation and long distance communication, and would become collateral damage in the quest for national security. The Navy insists that its safeguards — conventional passive sonar and a person with binoculars on the lookout for nearby cetaceans — are sufficient.
“They say that if a whale comes with 1.2 miles, they’ll turn it (LFA) off,” says Verdon-Roe. “First of all, obviously they can’t see everything approaching. And how likely is it that the Navy will report the death of one whale when they emphatically denied for 18 months the responsibility for the Bahamas stranding?”
In March 2000, immediately following the Navy’s use of mid-range sonar (far less powerful than LFA), 16 whales of four species “stranded” themselves in the Bahamas. Biologists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute examined them and found bleeding from their eyes, and hemorrhaging in their ears and brains. Ken Balcolm, a marine biologist who lived nearby, froze two whale heads and flew them to Harvard Medical School where autopsies confirmation that active sonar had indeed killed them. For 18 months, the Navy vehemently denied responsibility, until the evidence was irrefutable.
“The U.S. Navy has the worst environmental record of any global organization,” charges Stocker. “So it’s particularly egregious to suggest that the Navy will properly monitor itself by sending in quarterly reports, as stipulated by the National Marine Fisheries Service.”
Indeed, many wonder whether the recent strandings in Cape Cod, Maine and Australia might not be a result of secret Navy testing in those regions. An article appeared in 1998 in the British Journal Nature correlating the unusual mass stranding that occurred on the Greek Islands in1996 with secret NATO testing of LFA in the area.
“Not only does this active sonar threaten ocean life, it could set off an underwater arms race much like what’s happening with the Missile Defense Shield,” Verdon-Roe surmises. “If this is a serious threat, then other countries are going to employ their own LFAs to create an arms race under water. This potential catastrophe is being done in the name of our security, using our tax dollars. Those of us who don’t believe this lethal technology makes us safer, must speak up.”
Concerned public should send their elected officials faxes, phone calls, and emails. Among the most important officials to contact is California Senator Diane Feinstein, Chair of the Military Appropriations Committee, who has the power to cut the funding.
- Seaflow Advocacy Organization. In mid-March 2003, Seaflow is sponsoring a conference to be held in Hawaii. Contact: (415) 454-4443; http://www.seaflow.org
- Sen. Diane Feinstein: phone: (415) 393-0707; fax: (415) 393-0710
- Donna Wieting, Chief Marine Mammal Conservation Division Office of Protected Resources National Marine Fisheries Service, 1315 East-West Highway Silver Springs, MD 20910
Bill Strubbe is a freelance writer in California and frequent contributor to Spirit of Change.
On August 14th a crop circle of dolphins surrounding the Earth appeared in Wiltshire, England. The design shows two dolphins surrounding a small sphere, with three circles around that sphere. (See link: http://www.cropcircleconnector.com/2002/eastfield3/eastfield2002c.html)
Many have been speaking about the fate of the whales and dolphins for a long time now, and how important it is for us to receive the gifts they are offering before it’s too late. Now it seems that this same message is being delivered by extraterrestrial sources. It is said that the crop circle has an imbedded code that will be revealed by simply looking at the picture which will activate certain individuals in their roles of increasing peace and compassion on the planet.
A group of internationally known and scientifically studied children from around Europe known as The Psychic Children, whose messages have been publicized both in the United States and abroad for the past decade or so, posted the following message simultaneously with the appearance of the new dolphin design crop circle.
“Are you surprised that this information is being presented to you in this new way? These crop circles are communicating with your inner mind and the message is clear. We stand at the brink of an incredible awakening, and the dolphins and whales play a critical role. Why, then, are we trying to destroy them — so that we won’t have to hear their message or receive their gift? The deployment of the low frequency sonar is how we have chosen to close our ears to their gift and to their cries for help. This is a wake up call, and it is not just from us Children or even the dolphins and whales. Now it is coming from our brothers and sisters from other dimensions and planets. What will you do? Will you open your heart and become part of the creative solution? Or will you turn the other way, as there are so many who are trying to snare your attention? This is the moment you must decide. Humanity is being pulled to the next level in its evolution, but only if you allow it.”
March 18th-23rd in Hawaii: Psychic Children Speak to the World. Contact 541-482-5962 orhttp://www.emissaryoflight.com