Navy and Marine Mammals: Fact vs. Myth

Dolphins and Navy ship

OC Weekly
Navy Sonar Plan Riles Protectors of Whales

Navy Response (12/24/13)

Several of the statements in the article titled, “Navy Sonar Plan Riles Protectors of Whales” are inaccurate and/or require clarification.

1. The estimates of marine mammals that may be affected by Navy training and testing are high, but the numbers are based on mathematical modeling that assume a worst-case scenario. In over 60 years of similar training and testing, there has been no evidence of major impacts to marine mammal populations. We ultimately do not expect any marine mammals to be killed or injured.

2. Sonar has never “exploded the eardrums” of marine mammals, nor has it directly injured or killed any animal at sea.

3. Sonar has been linked to a small number of marine mammal strandings over the past 15 years, affecting fewer than 40 animals total. The Navy takes precautions when using sonar and works with the National Marine Fisheries Service to ensure that our activities comply with the law and do not have major impacts on marine mammal populations.

4. No science has ever shown that live-fire training can lead marine mammals to strand.

5. During the melon-headed whale event in 2004 in Hanalei Bay, only one whale–an emaciated calf–went ashore. It was an aggregation event where the animals milled about in in the Bay. Similar events have occurred elsewhere in the world in areas where no sonar was in use.

6. The video link offered doesn’t accurately reflect what sonar sounds like or its effects on marine mammals.

Kenneth Hess

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