Training by the US Navy over the course of the next five-years could have dangerous repercussions for whales and dolphins off the gulf coast of Mexico, the East Coast, Southern California and Hawaii. The Navy's training and testing is scheduled to run from 2014 through 2019. The military released two environmental impact statements saying how their training exercises would likely kill the marine mammals. Most deaths will occur from testing explosives, other will be the result of sonar testing or inadvertently hitting the animals with ships.
The US Navy conducted studies to see which areas of the ocean would be most affected by their training and testing. The result of the Navy's study showed that hundreds of marine mammals would be injured or killed by their testing and training exercises. The Navy conducted these studies ahead of applying for permits from the Marine Fisheries Service in order to conduct their activities. Rear Admiral Kevin Slates of the Navy's environmental readiness division told reporters this week the Navy would use simulators when appropriate. The Admiral then added the sailors must also train in real life situations.
"Without this realistic testing and training, our sailors can't develop or maintain the critical skills they need or ensure the new technologies can be operated effectively," Slate said to the Associated Press on Wednesday. AP is also reporting the simulated tests the Navy ran to determine the outcome of their studies suggest 186 whales and dolphins may be killed off the East Coast. 155 animals could be killed off the coast of California and Hawaii. There is also the possibility of 11,267 major injuries and 1.89 million minor injuries to whales and dolphins.
Some scientists like Michael Jasny a senior analysis with the Natural Resources Defense Council, believes the Navy is lowballing the number of animals that will be injured or killed as a result of their training. Jasny told AP about a study published last month by the scientific publication "Proceedings of the Royal Society." This study showed that active sonar is disruptive to the feeding patterns of blue whales. The study suggests by moving the whales away from their normal feeding habits it can drastically effect their health and the overall health of the entire baleen whale population.
Other effects of sonar on whales and dolphins include bleeding around the brain, the ears and other sensitive tissues. Large bubbles can form in the animal's organs as a result of the devastatingly loud man made Sonar that pierces their sensitive systems. The Natural Resources Defense Council says, "These symptoms are akin to a severe case of "the bends" -- the illness that can kill scuba divers who surface quickly from deep water. Scientists believe that the mid-frequency sonar blasts may drive certain whales to change their dive patterns in ways their bodies cannot handle, causing debilitating and even fatal injuries."
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