You know that the-Navy-is-about-to-kill-&-deafen-thousands-of-Whales & Dolphins petition that’s been going around? There’s a reason elephant didn’t promote it.
The “truth” and nuance get shared a lot less than sensational click n’share headlines. And yet we all love to criticize media!
There’s a thing called compassion. There’s a thing called journalism. There’s a thing called companies that don’t bother with the second taking advantage of the first. We don’t do that. If we ever do, please ask us WTF, politely, and we’ll correct our ways. ~ Way.
INTELLIGENT RESPONSE TO: Navy to kill 1, 800 whales and dolphins and deafen 15, 900 more – sign this petition
From John and Margo
Thanks to: Krystyna Jurzykowsky
Subject: Fwd: [Invit] Navy to kill 1, 800 whales and dolphins and deafen 15,
900 more – sign this petition
John and Margo,
I kept getting this Move-on petition through various channels…
So I asked Jim Nollman, Interspecies Communication, for his opinion and
Funny thing you should mention the Moveon petition about whales and the Navy.
Last week I answered someone else who sent me that same petition for comment.
Here’s what i wrote.
1. the numbers are a bit too made up. 15,900? For animals that spend 90% of
their time underwater. Plus, I suspect that the issue they are protesting is
not high frequency testing, but mid-frequency sonar. To find two factual
errors in the first sentence, makes certain that this petition will elicit a
smirk from Navy policy makers. I wish someone from Moveon actually understood
both the whales and the acoustics involved.
3. I also question the geography described. The Navy does nearly all its sonar
testing within the officialy proscribed SOCAL and SCORE test ranges offshore
between San Diego and LA. Those ranges probably account for at least 90% of
the tests suggested by this Moveon letter. Offshore sonar testing has been
going on at those places for many years, and there’s never been a documented
case of a whale dying from too loud sound at either site. I know this because
I worked with that data. The many people working on that issue all concluded
that the SOCAL and SCORE whales have acclimated to the occasional burst of
loud noise. Not unlike a person in New York City who doesn’t flinch when a
taxi honks in front of him. The problem that Moveon alludes to occurs in areas
where testing is either infrequent or unknown but have beaked whale
populations. Like in the Mediterranean or around the Caribbean. These very
unusual animals feed below 2000 feet, and travel underwater so they are almost
never seen, except when they wash up on shore dead.
4. When a loud noise occurs in a place with beaked whales, they sometimes
stampede to the surface and die of the bends. This is the main concern of the
Navy, and i was part of the team trying to find a solution. The irony is that
the Navy wouldn’t use my own best solution. They could have solved the
problem in 5 minutes (and for all time) by simply turning the volume dial
slowly. That process is called “ramp up”. But the Navy stubbornly (and
irresponsibly) refused to compromise their testing regimen with the survival
needs of these rare whales, insisting that “national security” trumps any
problem the whales may have with mid-frequency sonar. That sucks. My work with
the Navy was frustrating. Our team also gave gave the sonar fleet a much more
sensitive tool to detect beaked whales before a test, so they wouldn’t have
to alter their own procedures. But they wouldn’t use our detection tools
either, or should i say, at least not yet, probably because of too much
lobbying power by the binoculars company. Currently the team in charge of
whale detection is maxed out on binoculars. As you can imagine binoculars are
not much use to track a whale species that hardly ever surfaces. Not to
mention that a lot of the sonar exercises are done at night. Write Nancy
Pelosi to schedule a Congressional inquiry. I’ll gladly testify.
One other factor brought up by Moveon’s rather polarizing broadside. The Navy
kills whales, but to be honest about it, not very many when measured against
more dangerous factors like oil spills and commercial fishing. Actually, the
biggest mortality issue now confronting whales is not Japanese whaling, and
its certainly not sonar. It’s ship strikes. There’s lots of examples of whales
dying from ship strikes off of LA, San Francisco, and outside of the Strait of
Juan de Fuca where I live. I have worked with many of the people developing
hi-tech whale detection tools and setting them in place so that it is
available 24/7 for ship pilots entering high traffic areas where whales also
abound. It is already in place in Boston, NY, Jacksonville. This stuffworks
fabulously. The machinery is basically hi-tech buoys connected to internet
software that can track whales so long as they make sound just a few times in
range of the buoy.
I also feel something else after 4 years of working with the Navy, among many
people sincerely seeking solutions to the sonar whale issue. That is::: The
Navy is a big and a convenient target. Tuna fishermen and ship pilots are much
harder to protest against. But both kill far more whales than the Navy does.
Here’s a separate issue. The Navy recently killed a young orca off the
washington coast during a poorly produced ordnance exercise. This is yet
another issue, and I don’t it expect it to happen again any time soon, because
orcas are big biz here in Puget Sound and the Navy got too much egg on its
face for doing something so obviously destructive without much planning. The
skipper of that vessel needed to confer with our team, but didn’t. I guess
that something simialr won’t happen for several years. Then everybody will
forget about it, and it will happen again through sloppiness and because every
skipper is king on his ship, but the ships all have technology way beyond the
skill level of any human being to understand.
Hope this helps. Send it anywhere you think it will do some good.