Action Alert: Navy’s Proposed Action Deadly To Resident Orcas


By Kirsten Massebeau

The comment period closes on April 15 for the Navy’s Proposed Actions in the Puget Sound.and the entire Northwest Training Complex.The Navy plans to add pier-side testing and maintenance, increased sonar practicing, and increased underwater charges and mines. While the Navy tries to minimize the impact of their activities Ken Balcomb senior scientist at The Center For Whale Research has actually heard, and seen the damage.

Listen to the OPB interview with Ken Balcomb senior scientist at The Center For Whale Research featured in Candace Calloway Whiting’s article: Hear Ear-splitting Navy Sonar, and Watch the Orca Whales Respond

Please follow this link and read the Navy’s Proposed Plan HERE. Once you have read the proposed action you can then comment on the three deadly and important changes they are seeking. The ability to do pier-side sonar testing and maintenance one of the worst. An increase in sonar, and mines exercises and increase in underwater charges is unacceptable!

Sample Letter:

“I am writing in opposition to the Navy’s proposed expansion of their Northwest Training Complex. I want to begin by opposing pier side sonar testing that would take place in an ESA listed habitat for resident orcas not to mention the many other cetaceans, marine mammals, and ocean life living close to the shorelines. Increasing these tests dock side is out of the question. There is no limit to the damage and deaths it will cause.

I also oppose and increase in underwater charges, increased war games using sonar, and explosion of underwater mines.
“Alternative 1 includes some activities that were not analyzed in previous documents. New activities being considered include:
“Use of new and existing unmanned vehicles and their acoustic sensors, in support of homeland security and anti-terrorism/force protection. This type of training is critical in protecting the nation’s military and civilian harbors, ports and shipping lanes.
Use of 0.50-caliber blanks in Puget Sound in support of force protection training of the Navy’s Maritime Expeditionary Security Force.
Addition of a biennial maritime homeland defense mine countermeasure training exercise in Puget Sound and analyzing the amount of time acoustic sensors are used during that event”.
All of the above expansions are unacceptable. I am supporting NO ACTION ALTERNATIVE and a slow departure of the Navy from the Puget Sound area and Pacific Northwest. It’s time to end the Navy’s war on whales”.

COMMENT HERE!!!

Please use the above information and compose your comment now opposing the Navy’s proposed action increasing their deadly activities in the Puget Sound!

PLEASE COMMENT NOW!!!

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Naval Exercises Possible Cause of Florida Pilot Whale Strandings


By Kirsten Massebeau and Barbara Napoles

On Tuesday December 3rd  National Park Services found a pod of approximately 51 pilot whales stranded on the edge of the Florida Everglades in shallow waters near Highland Point. They immediately notified NOAA fisheries. On Wednesday December 4th rescuers and scientists arrived on  to assess the situation and attempt to move the pilot whales to deeper water. Rescuers and scientists attempted to use a technique involving sound called  “Oikomi” used by the dolphin hunters of Taiji to herd dolphins to the shallow waters of Hatakejiri Bay, know as “The Cove” where they are slaughtered and captured for the marine parks and aquariums. The banger boats create a semi-circle around the dolphins. They then drop metal poles into the water that they bang on creating a moving wall of sound (source) “On Wednesday, efforts to herd the surviving whales out to sea by forming a semi-circle of boats and making noise by hitting chains on the side and revving the engines did not work”.(Source)

“Of the 51 whales originally stranded, 11 have died, and 5 went missing overnight Wednesday”.(source)

Thursday December 5th rescuers and scientist returned to Highland Point. The remaining 41 whales had left the area: “By Thursday morning, the pilot whales were not in their initial stranding site. As of 11:45am, Thursday, a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter spotted three separate pods of approximately 35 whales spread over 1,000 yards (4 nautical miles) seaward of the Seminole Point/Plover Key area (about 9 miles north of previous stranding location). 15 boats were used to again, and did push the whale 10-15 miles out to deeper water approximately 15 feet deep. “The team was unable to locate the remaining 5 whales from the original pod sighting”.(Source)

Friday morning bought more bad news as two whales were seen swimming in 2-3 feet of water off Plover Key nine miles North of the deceased whales found the day prior. In addition,”Seven whales are free swimming in 12-14 feet of water, Southwest of Plover Key. The larger group of 24 whales has not been relocated”. (source)

Many people are wondering why and how these deep water whales stranded on the shallow shelf of the Gulf Basin with some whales more compromised than others. Pilot whales are known to be deep divers that stay far from shallow waters: “They feed primarily on squid, but they may also feed on octopus and fish, all from moderately deep water of 1000 feet (305 m) or more. When they are swimming and probably looking for food, pilot whales form ranks that can be over a kilometer (more than 1/2 mile) long”.(source) When one is sick the others will often follow but the question still remains as to what caused this stranding and terrible suffering and loss of cetacean life?

High school biology teacher and ocean activist Edward Johnson of Cannon Beach, Oregon posted on Facebook about the MH60R helicopter with this statement: “Just in case the Navy starts explaining how they in no way had anything to do with the Everglades whale stranding. This hybred helicopter has the power to damage the echolocation capacity of these pilot whales”(source) The MH60R is indeed equipped with an impressive array of defensive and counter defensive weaponry:

  • Sonobuoy launcher
  • Raytheon AN/AQS-22 advanced airborne low-frequency (ALFS) dipping sonar.
  • Lockheed Martin AGM-114 Hellfire anti-surface missiles.
  • The MH-60R can carry up to three ATK mk50 or mk46 active / passive lightweight torpedoes.
  •  7.62mm machine gun
  • Lockheed Martin AN/ALQ-210 electronic support measures system (ESM)
  • Electronic warfare systems include the ATK AN/AAR-47 missile warner,
  • Laser warning system
  • BAE Systems AN/ALQ-144 infrared jammer and
  • AN/ALE-39 chaff and flare decoy dispenser.
  • Raytheon AN/AAS-44 detecting / tracking system
  • Forward-looking infrared (FLIR) and laser rangefinder.
  • Telephonics AN/APS-147 multimode radar, which has inverse synthetic aperture (ISAR) imaging and periscope and small target detection capabilities.
  •  AN/APS-153 radar, with the automatic radar periscope detection and discrimination (ARPDD) capability.

“Commander, Strike Force Training Atlantic (CSFTL) is evaluating CSG2 on how well they perform during simulated surface and sub-surface threats and ship movements such as transiting a strait in hostile waters.

“CSFTL will evaluate our ability to perform all the different mission sets,” said Cmdr. Andrew Walton, the operations officer of USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). “This includes everything from counter-piracy to maritime interdiction operations and strike warfare.”(source)

OPAREA. An ocean area defined by geographic coordinates with defined surface and subsurface areas and associated special use airspace. OPAREAs include the following:
Danger Zones. A danger zone is a defined water area used for target practice, bombing, rocket firing or other especially hazardous military activities. Danger zones are established pursuant to statutory authority of the Secretary of the Army and are
administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Danger zones may be closed to the
public on a full-time or intermittent basis (33 Code of Federal Regulations [CFR] 334).(source pg.49)

While NOAA suggests mobilivirus as the cause of the pilot whale strandings ocean activists are questioning as to why the Bush Strike Group Comptuex exercises December 2nd through 8th have not been mentioned. Considering the location of the pilot whales strandings to OPAREA an area designated for Special Use Airspace and other activities this seems negligent.

The Navy has been given what many are calling an excessive number of takes, ” “The Navy estimates it will harm marine mammals over 33 million times in the next five years”(source) Despite public outcry NOAA/NMFS have gone ahead and given the Navy a Letter of Authorization to increase the harm caused to Marine Mammals using archaic mitigation measures such as “look outs,” people looking at the surface for dolphins and whales.

Upon application from the U.S. Navy (Navy), we the National Marine Fisheries
Service (NMFS) are issuing regulations under the Marine Mammal Protection Act to govern the unintentional taking of marine mammals incidental to training and testing activities conducted in the Atlantic Fleet Training and Testing (AFTT) Study Area from November 2013 through November 2018. These regulations allow us to issue Letters of Authorization (LOA) for the incidental take of marine mammals during the Navy’s specified activities and timeframes, set forth the permissible methods of taking, set forth other means of effecting the least practicable adverse impact on marine mammal species or stocks and their habitat, and set forth requirements pertaining to the monitoring and reporting of the incidental take.
DATES: Effective November 14, 2013, through November 13, 2018.(source pg1)

While National Security is important to all American’s when is the price too great to the ocean and ocean life such as the pilot whale who is actually a dolphin, highly evolved and intelligent? We must question whether we have the right to take their lives in the name of training for war.

Naval testing activities in the Atlantic Training Complex can “Take” 15,701 class B harassments and 153 pilot whale deaths within a one year period and 74,614 level B “Takes” and 163 level A recorded death of pilot whales over the five year period(source)

Naval training can “Take” 101,252 level B harassments and 3 pilot whale deaths within a one year period and 506,240 level B harassments and 15 recorded Level A deaths of pilot whales over the 5 year period (source)

Our voice is their only hope. As ocean advocates we must  stand up and speak up and out for the dolphins, whales and all the ocean life that is going to be impacted by the Navy’s ever increasing war games in the oceans. We must demand transparency, we must demand acoustic necropsy and access to those results.

The global community has a right to speak up for the whales and dolphins. Whalers and the captive industry are constantly being reminded by activists that they do not in fact own the whales and the dolphins that inhabit the oceans. Surely we must have the same voice in speaking out against the Navy and their ever increasing training exercises and war games that have the capacity to clear cut our oceans of whales, dolphins and many other species of ocean life.

Update 12/9/2013

We understand that NOAA and the Navy cannot reveal or acknowledge COMPTUEX Naval Exercises because of National Security as was the case with the Cape Cod Strandings. We will be updating as necropsy results become available that we will begin trying to obtain via: the Freedom of Information Act. We encourage all activists to follow up as well.

Follow the NOAA updates on the pilot whales : Here

Letter Opposing Proposed Navy Permits to Harm and Harass 31 million Dolphins and Whales


By Kirsten Massebeau

Dolphin death linked to Naval Sonar exercises off the coast of San Diego,Ca. 2008/In 2000, 17 wnales stranded on beaches in the Bahamas following U.S. Navy sonar exercises. Beaked whales appear to be especially sensitive to sonar.

Dolphin death linked to Naval Sonar exercises off the coast of San Diego,Ca. 2008/In 2000, 17 whales stranded on beaches in the Bahamas following U.S. Navy sonar exercises. Beaked whales appear to be especially sensitive to sonar.

If the U.S. Navy is awarded two permits to “take” 31 million whales and dolphins over the next five years the results will be devastating to whales, dolphins, seals and all marine life off the Atlantic Coastline, Hawaii and Southern California Coastlines. The comment period on these two permits closes on March 11, 2013. Both permits are still up for review. Follow these links to see the permits and submit your comments.

How many more must die for war games!

How many more must die for war games!

A sample letter and suggestions have been provided by Stephen Hambrick creator of the  Facebook Event: Save Whales & Dolphins from Navy Sonar Massacre! 

Please enter your comments regarding the Navy sonar testing. Tell them the potential casualty rate of Marine Mammals is unacceptable.
- NOTE VERY IMPORTANT. Please Be polite. At the end of your Comment Say the following “Request the application by the US Navy be denied.”

EXAMPLE COMMENTS…….

The following are all very good examples, however it is not necessary to leave a lengthy Comment.

Such as :
a) The loss of marine life is too great, the oceans with all the vastly diversified free-roaming life of Cetaceans, together with all the other life forms contained within them are not owned or vested to the determination of the USA. Request the application by the US Navy be denied.

b) “I write to express my opposition to this permit. To further allow the Navy to have an increase in incidental takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; U.S. Navy Training and Testing Activities in the Atlantic Fleet Training and Testing Study Area
The numbers of marine mammals the Navy plans to harm, harass, and kill are catastrophic in impact to all the species specified. It is without precedent to slaughter, maim, otherwise harm cetaceans and other sea life on this scale. Request the application by the US Navy be denied.

c) This permit seeks to fundamentally effect the balance of the worlds oceans and it’s natural habit I wish therefore to demand that you do not award the navy this permit, which seeks to commit devastation which will have consequences well beyond the the USA oceanic jurisdiction. Request the application by the US Navy be denied.

d) Dostana posts, “The loss of marine life is too great, the oceans with all the vastly diversified free-roaming life of Cetaceans, together with all the other life forms contained within them are not owned or vested to the determination of the USA. Request the application by the US Navy be denied.”

e) By the Navy’s own admission, per their application. The Navy requests authorization to take individuals in a total of 74 marine mammal species and another 27 more marine mammals, with serious injury or mortality. While I appreciate the Navy’s ability to defend and protect, the training and exercises should not be at the expense of the life of our oceans. For without our oceans. We have no life!
A panel of leading marine scientists brought together in Oxford in 2011 by the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).The suggestion made by the panel is that the potential extinction of species, from large fish to tiny corals, is directly comparable to the five great mass extinctions in the geological record, during each of which much of the world’s life died out. The panel of 27 scientists, who considered the latest research from all areas of marine science, concluded that a “combination of stressors is creating the conditions associated with every previous major extinction of species in Earth’s history”. They also concluded:The speed and rate of degeneration of the oceans is far faster than anyone has predicted; Many of the negative impacts identified are greater than the worst predictions; The first steps to globally significant extinction may have already begun. Dr Alex Rogers, professor of conservation biology at Oxford University and IPSO’s scientific director states: “As we considered the cumulative effect of what humankind does to the oceans, the implications became far worse than we had realized.This is a very serious situation demanding action at every level. We are looking at consequences for humankind that will impact in our lifetime, and worse, in the lifetime of our children and generations beyond that.” Given the state of our oceans at this time, allowing these tests seems to be far beyond a ‘negligible impact’. Therefore I request the application of the US Navy be denied.

Petitions you can sign!

Dolphin and Whale Incidental Takes East Coast Training Unacceptable


By Kirsten Massebeau Champions for Cetaceans Daily Scoop

Atlantic Bottle Nose Dolphin and Calf

The Navy has submitted their request for “incidental takes of marine mammals with NMFS/NOAA for 2012 U.S. Navy Atlantic Fleet Training and Testing Activities (AFTT). Marine mammals will suffer painful deaths inflicted by sonar, under water explosions and exposure to toxic chemicals. As can be seen in the tables below the number of whales, dolphins, and seals to be killed (harassment A) and impacted (harassment B) are unacceptable. The Navy now admits that harm will be caused yet are increasing their training program and impact on marine mammals. (Source)

REQUEST FOR REGULATIONS AND LETTERS OF AUTHORIZATION
FOR THE INCIDENTAL TAKING OF MARINE MAMMALS
RESULTING FROM U.S. NAVY TRAINING AND TESTING ACTIVITIES
IN THE ATLANTIC FLEET TRAINING AND TESTING STUDY AREA 

(September 2012  FINAL)

(Permit Source for Tables)

These numbers are unacceptable! All ocean activists need to make comments and let our voices be heard. Only we can stop the Navy from decimating whale and dolphin populations. Please follow this link and make your comment. The comment period ends on 11/05/2012. We must convince NMFS/NOAA that these incidental  take numbers are unacceptable!

Arctic Faces Acoustic Double Whammy


Arctic Bowhead Whale By Life of The Sea

The remote Arctic Beaufort Sea, Simpson Lagoon, and Chukchi Sea are bracing themselves as Shell Oil, and possibly BP power towards those pristine waters in search of oil. If BP is awarded this permit both Shell Oil and BP will be doing seismic surveys during the same period in the Beaufort Sea for and estimated 50 days. Two of BP’s  ships will be firing air guns 24 hours 24 a day at dB levels of  >160dB to 230dB  flooding the shallow Simpson Lagoon and Barrier Islands with sound for several months Source.

Since the beginning of 2012, 3000 dolphins have washed ashore on Peruvian coastlines, “One theory is that powerful sound caused by oil exploration ships could have resulted in internal damage for the mammals, Carlos Yaipen Llanos, science director of the marine mammal rescue group Organización Científica para Conservación de Animales Acuáticos (ORCA), told the Peruvian news” source. Follow this link to see pictures of dolphin tissue samples taken and analyzed by Dr. Carlos Yaipen and released by BlueVoice.org.

Shell Oil has already received their Letter of Authorization (LOA) to begin oil exploration activities in the Beaufort Sea, Camden Bay and the Chukchi Sea:”The authorization for taking by harassment is limited to the following acoustic sources(or sources with comparable frequency and intensity) and from the following activities”:

This Authorization is valid from July 1,2012, through October 31, 2012. Camden Bay, Beaufort Sea
(a). 8-airgun array with a total discharge volume of 760 in3
(b). continuous drill-ship sounds during active drilling operations;
(c). vessel sounds generated during active ice management or ice-breaking; source.

This Authorization is valid from July 1,2012, through October 31, 2012. Camden Bay, Beaufort Sea
(a). 8-airgun array with a total discharge volume of760 in3
(b). continuous drill-ship sounds during active drilling operations;
(c). vessel sounds generated during active ice management or ice-breaking; (d).aircraft associated with marine mammal monitoring and support operations. source.

Simpson Lake Located in the Beaufort Sea

“BP Exploration (Alaska), Inc. (BPXA) proposes to conduct a 3D ocean bottom cable (OBC) seismic survey in the Simpson Lagoon area, Beaufort Sea, for an estimated 50 days of work during the open water period of approximately 1 July to 15 October 2012″source BP plans to use three seismic ships that will carry a total of 40 air guns some of which will  fire simultaneously for 24 hours a day. “Again, the advantage of source vessels alternating shots is that more data can be acquired in shorter time. Seismic data acquisition is a 24 hour per day operation”source.

Seismic Survey

Although Seismic Testing is often presented as benign just seeing and hearing the underwater explosions one can only imagine the damage that is caused at every level of ocean life. The ships are using 40 air-guns and more. The guns are firing the air guns simultaneously so the explosions are never ending for the 50 days of seismic tesing. Here is a video of a visual video of an airgun firing video. Here is an acoustic recording of a single underwater airgun firing recovering then firing again: listen now.

As the evidence supporting horrific devastation to the oceans and marine life due to seismic testing continues to compile surely the federal government can spare the Arctic region where so little is known about the ocean life. This is a place where commercial fishing is not allowed, Home to bowhead, Beluga and gray whales this is an area so sensitive that no commercial fishing has been allowed under National Marine Fisheries Ruling established in 2009 source.

Arctic Bowhead Whales Mother and Calve

What can you do? Send NOAA/NMFS an email asking  not to award BP the permit for a seismic survey in the Beaufort Ocean. Comments and information must be received no later than May 31, 2012. Comments should be addressed to: Tammy Adams, Acting Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service at ITP.guan@noaa.gov or 1315 East-WestHighway, Silver Spring, MD 20910. The mailbox address for providing email comments is  source.

March 7th Cape Cod Dolphin Stranding Correlates with Atlantic Naval Activities


By Kirsten Massebeau

As the stranding of dolphins continues on Cape Cod’s, Well Fleet so do the correlations with Naval activites in the Atlantic Ocean. It was reported that dolphins stranded on March 7th 2012. “The rash of strandings of short-beaked common dolphins along the Cape Cod Bay shoreline in the past month is rare for the decade, but marine mammal specialists cautioned Monday that in the longer view, it might be perfectly normal”.Again, just as in the months of January and February Naval activity is taking place in the Atlantic. Even government Funded IFAW Katie Moore who has denied Naval involvement despite evidence of Naval activity can no longer deny the possibility of sound being the source of these tragic deaths along the Atlantic Coastline, “

Moore said she couldn’t rule out possible connections between the strandings and acoustic disruptions in the ocean or climate change or other human-caused factors.

“We don’t have that single answer,” she said. “We want to look into every possible cause.”

So why the denial Cape Cod? Where is the advocacy for the dolphins and whales who are having to contend with an aggressive Naval program that is only expanding. Why is this allowed to continue? Many people seem unaware that NOAA has signed permits for the Navy to “take” huge numbers of dolphins and whales as “incidental” to sonar, underwater detonations, and other Wartime activities:

This letter of Authorization is just for the Atlantic ocean alone!

This Authorization is valid for the period January 22, 2012, through January 22,2014

(i) Mysticetes:
2 (A) North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis) 1466
(B) Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) – 9244
(C) Minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) – 914
(D) Sei whale (Balaenoptera borealis) – 2326
(E) Fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus) – 1940
(F) Bryde ‘ s whale (Balaenoptera edeni) – 80
(G) Blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) – 1762
(ii) Odontocetes:
(A) Sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) – 21468
(B) Pygmy or dwa r f sperm whales (Kogia breviceps or Kogia s ima ) -
9644
(C) Beaked Whales (Cuvier’s, True’s, Gervais’, Sowerby’s, Blainville’s,
Northern bottlenose whale) (Ziphius cavirostris, Mesoplodon mirus, M.
europaeus, M. bidens, M. densirostris, Hyperoodon ampullatus) – 10796
(D) Rough-toothed dolphin (Steno bredanensis) 5958
(E) Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) – 1334964
(F) Pan-tropical dolphin (Stenella attenuata) – 306474
G) Atlantic spotted dolphin (Stenella frontalis) 827824
(H) Spinner dolphin (Stenella longirostris) – 46542
(I) Clymene dolphin (Stenella clymene) – 102164
(J) Striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba) – 384392
(K) Common dolphin (Delphinus spp.) – 212212 
(L) Fr a s e r ‘ s dolphin (Lagenodelphis hosei) – 762
(M) Risso’ s dolphin (Grampus griseus) – 206966
(N) Atlantic white-sided dolphin (Lagenorhynchus acutus) – 45432
(0) White-beaked dophin (Lagenorhynchus albirostris) -7590
(P) Melon-headed whale (Peponocephala electra) 3638
(Q) Pygmy killer whale (Feresa attenuata) – 616
(R) False killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens) – 1194
(S) Killer whale (Orcinus orca) 1106
(T) Pilot whales (Short-finned pilot or long-finned) (Globicephala
macrorynchus or G. melas) 280264
(U) Harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) – 337658

How are these numbers acceptable. Up to 21,2212 common dolphins can be “taken” meaning killed or harassed by the U.S. Navy. What does this mean for dolphins? Each year the death and destruction will increase as sonar becomes more powerful and as the U.S. Navy continues to increase the use.

Why do government funded scientists and marine mammals specialists seem to be looking the other way when it come to the Navy? Could it be all in the name of science. It seems because this is a new area of study government funded some scientists are clamoring to get in on the data and studies.

‘A lot that we can learn’

Scientists typically advocate the rescue of marine mammals in distress, even if they are not endangered as a total population, because as humans “we value being humane to animals in need,” Zagzebski said. “There’s a lot that we can learn. They’re telling us what’s going in the ocean, in that ecosystem, and that’s an ecosystem that we depend on.”

On the West Coast, the study of stranded California sea lions and common dolphins in the late 1990s led to a better understanding of a public health risk from a harmful algae bloom, Zagzebski said. On the East Coast, a current study of how marine mammals handle deep diving could help shed light on how humans might survive in deep waters.

“It’s amazing work,” she said.
How could anyone call this amazing? This video was taken in 2003. Imagine how advanced sonar is today, louder with pings traveling farther.Thanks to scientists on the West Coast dedicated to saving cetaceans from sonar control the Navy’s sonar activities will not be swept under the rug!

Is the suffering of dolphins and whales from these sonar exercises worth the “data”. Is the trade off worth it? Come on world open your eyes to the terrible suffering. Together we can silence deadly sonar!
Please take a moment and contact Jim Levy in who has signed these terrible Letters of Authorization for the Navy to “take” dolphins and whales incidental to sonar use. Let him know we will not accept the increased use of sonar by the Navy! We believe homeland security is important but not when it is causing such suffering in our ocean cousins. Request information on any upcoming permits for sonar that he has not authorized!
jim.lecky@noaa.gov

Join us as we fight to silence sonar and air-guns before it destroys all the whales and dolphins in the ocean!

Follow the link to find out about sonar and the Navy’s activities in the Atlantic Ocean during the months of January and February 2012: http://championsforcetaceans.com/2012/03/07/cape-cod-dolphin-stranding-coincides-with-atlantic-naval-warfare-exercises-in-10-years/

Cape Cod Dolphin Stranding Coincides with Atlantic Naval Warfare Exercises in 10 years


Picture by Sandy Sullivan taken at Jeremy Point, Wellfleet

By Kirsten Massebeau and Edward Johnson

January 12, 2012 will always be remembered as the day the mass stranding of common dolphins began on Cape Cod’s Wellfleet. Dolphins began to strand that afternoon and continued into the month of February. Government funded non profit IFAW strand network and NOAA have continued to contend there is no connection to sonar despite the largest Naval Warfare exercises in 10 years. But the carcasses of dolphins decomposing on the Cape Cod Coastline are screaming out for an investigation into what really happened by an unbiased, independent team of scientists who are not funded by the U.S. government. It is no surprise that each and every “expert”interviewed is government funded. They want the world to believe this was a “natural” occurrence yet how can we when all the information related to the stranding is being handled by government funded agencies and scientists, a truly biased group. Dolphin conservationists are challenging the Navy to release locations of the sonar carrying vessels during these training exercises and the sonar pings and anthropogenic noise created by by underwater detonations. In addition, some of the foreign participants may have been using sonar that is not described in the Naval permit in any other way than classified:

“Active sonar Systems to be deployed along US Atlantic Coast and Gulf”

“Disturbance  The presence and movement of vessels represent a source of acute and chronic disturbance for marine mammals and sea turtles. The underwater noise generated by vessels may disturb animals when the animal perceives that an approach has started and during the course of the interaction. 6.1.2 High-frequency active sonar Several of the torpedoes and the AN/BQS-15 sonar system, which Navy submarines use for under-ice navigation and mine-hunting, produce high-frequency sounds (see Table 7). In addition, two of the active sonar systems the U.S. Navy employs as part of its mine warfare scenarios – AN/AQS-14, which is an active-controlled, helicoptertowed mine-hunting active sonar and AN/AQS-24 which is an upgraded version of AN/AQS-14 – operate at frequencies higher than 200 kHz.

6.1.3 Mid-frequency active sonar

Naval sonars operate on the same basic principle as fish-finders (which are also a kind of sonar): brief pulses of sound, or “pings,” are projected into the ocean and an accompanying hydrophone system in the sonar device listens for echoes from targets such as ships, mines or submarines. Several sonar systems are likely to be employed during the active sonar training activities the U.S. Navy plans to conduct along the Atlantic Coast of the United States andin the Gulf of Mexico, but several systems pose potential risks to listed resources (we should note that other navies that might be involved in some of the active sonar training exercises, such as Joint Task Force Exercises, employ similar active sonar systems as well, but we do not have the information necessary to describe those systems”. http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/pdfs/consultations/biop_navy_afast_loa2012.pdf

Based on Table 7, pg. 139 under disturbances which indicate that the use of these systems will be the source of acute and chronic disturbance for marine mammals and sea turtles, this permit allows ten different systems to be considered classified.  These classified systems are indicated as such for two reasons 1) Apparently at the request of the US Navy or 2) Systems that belong to a foreign government participating in some form of joint task force operation. NOAA and NMFS in others words by allowing the use of these damaging to lethal systems has basically agreed to circumvent the Marine Mammal Protection Act. The following is a list of those systems:

AN/SQS-53 and AN/SQS-56 MF Classified, AN/BQQ-5 or 10 MF Classified, MK-48 Torpedo HF       Classified, MK-46 or 54 Torpedo HF Classified, IEER (AN/SSQ-110A) Impulsive -Broadband Classified, AN/SLQ-25 (NIXIE) MF Classified, AN/SQQ-32 HF Classified, AN/BQS-15 HF Classified, ADC MK-1, MK-2, MK-3, and MK-4 ADCs MF Classified, & Noise Acoustic Emitters (NAE) MF Classified

 Conservationists are asking how such and extensive Naval operation using sonar could be be ruled out as the cause to the Atlantic cetacean strandings during January and February 2012 on the Atlantic Ocean. Government funded Katie Moore of IFAW in her article “Putting conspiracy to bed for Cape Cod’s stranded dolphins, it wasn’t U.S. Navy Sonar”, goes to great lengths to convince the reader that sonar is not the cause of the Cape Cod stranding’s. “The Navy has not conducted a major training exercise in the Northeast US within the last 24 months.  Currently there is only one active area of the Mid-Atlantic coast and according to both parties; Operation Bold Alligator 12, did not involve active sonar”. http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/pdfs/consultations/biop_navy_afast_loa2012.pdf.

Here is an excellent response by an anonymous commenter to Katie Moore’s article:

“Please don’t blithely dismiss people’s concerns about the Navy’s use of active sonar by using the word “conspiracy”. Although I respect the fact that you were a leader in this recent stranding case and I admire the work of your organization, the fact is that the effects of LFAS and MFAS on most species of cetaceans are largely unknown. What we do know is that small cetaceans will react to active sonar (Haro Strait 2003), but the Navy has a long history of not being forthright with the public, and NOAA is arm in arm with the Navy. Thanks to the work of a few brave and knowledgeable individuals and organizations, the public would not only continue to be in the dark about the Navy’s use of active sonar in its training ranges (dating back at least 60 years), but would continue to be left out of the legal and public commenting process. Let them question without being ridiculed”. http://www.ifaw.org/us/news/putting-conspiracy-bed-cape-cods-stranded-dolphins-it-wasn%E2%80%99t-us-navy-sonar#comment-51136

NOAA also made a point to dispel any questions about Sonar being involved, “Could military activities (e.g., Navy sonar or exercises) be causing these strandings? The Navy has not conducted a major training exercise off the coast of Massachusetts or anywhere in the Northeast in the last 24 months. Some animal welfare organizations have inquired about “Operation Bold Alligator, which was a combined Navy and Marine Corps training exercise recently conducted off the coast of North Carolina and southern Virginia. No hull mounted active sonar was used during “Operation Bold Alligator 12.” Activities conducted during that exercise could not possibly have affected dolphins in the Gulf of Maine and Cape Cod Bay”. http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/health/commondolphins_massachusetts2012.ht

In fact, there were not one but two Naval Exercises conducted in the “Atlantic” during January and February. It began with Comptuex JTFEX and went on to include Operation Bold Alligator. The magnitude of the Naval training exercises that took place in the Atlantic ocean during these months are mind boggling.  The U.S. Navy began Comptuex (Composite Training Exercise, JTFEX (Joint Task Fleet Exercise) on January 11, 2012 in the Atlantic ocean.”USS Enterprise (CVN 65) departed its homeport of Norfolk, Va., Jan. 11 to participate in a Composite Unit Training Exercise (COMPTUEX) and Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX)”The Enterprise Carrier Strike Group includes USS Enterprise (CVN 65), Carrier Air Wing 1, Destroyer Squadron 2, guided-missile cruiser USS Vicksburg (CG 69), guided-missile destroyers USS Porter (DDG 78), USS James E. Williams (DDG 95) and USS Nitze (DDG 94)”>http://mt-milcom.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2012-01-13T06:45:00-05:00&max-results=2 The USS James E. Williams a sonar laden guided missile destroyer is pictured above in the “Atlantic” performing a live fire exercise on January 12, 2012. Exact locations in the “Atlantic” are undisclosed.

Comptuex JTFEX Crew Certification January 18th 2012

“The goal of the exercise is to integrate and assess the staff and individual units within the Enterprise Carrier Strike Group, and to grant the strike group major operations certification upon completion.http://www.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=64784

“The JTFEX will test the ship’s ability, as well as that of its strike group, to operate in a complex, hostile environment with other U.S. and coalition forces”. http://www.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=64784

“COMPTUEX is the last major battle group exercise that the James E. Williams will have before we deploy with the Enterprise Strike Group this spring,” said Cmdr. Christopher M. Senenko, the commanding officer of James E. Williams”. http://www.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=64784

“It’s a last opportunity for the battle group to integrate, demonstrate all the mission sets we possibly may encounter on deployment, and get certification from the operational chain-of-command,” said Senenko”http://www.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=6478

“Hudson and Crosby also act as evaluators who are responsible for tactically employing SONAR to find threats. When a threat is found they place the ship or ships in their control into the most opportune environment to prosecute the threat”. http://navaltoday.com/2012/01/31/usa-arleigh-burke-class-guided-missile-destroyer-flexes-undersea-warfare-capabilities/

Comptuex/JTFEX and Operation Bold Alligator Underway February 8th 2012

Operation Bold Alligator took place from January 30-February 12, 2012

“Thousands of Marines storm U.S. beaches as Operation Bold Alligator sees biggest amphibious landing for a decade”

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2097624/Thousands-Marines-storm-U-S-beaches-Operation-Bold-Alligator-simulates-international-invasion.html#ixzz1npyQiDCP

“Bold Alligator is a large-scale, multinational Navy-Marine Corps amphibious exercise conducted by U.S. Fleet Forces and Marine Forces Command. It will be the Atlantic Fleet’s largest amphibious exercise in 10 years. The 2012 exercise is centralizing planning and execution of a brigade-sized amphibious assault from a seabase in a medium threat environment. Following a decade of ground war, this event is intended to revitalize, refine and strengthen core amphibious competencies of the Navy and Marine Corps”.  http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/news.html?d=244896

Interestingly an article published by PBS, “Just Ask: Could Sonar Be Responsible for Cap Cod Dolphin Strandings?” PBS interviews again interviews government funded and government funded Katie Moore of IFAW and then adds the voice of government funded Darlene Ketten of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute famous for their use of air guns, blasts of sound that map the ocean floor,

“Katie Moore, manager of the marine mammal rescue effort for theInternational Fund for Animal Welfare says she’s seen no evidence of any of these symptoms in the dolphins she and her team have tried to rescue.Darlene Ketten of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, who has been studying the stranded dolphins in her lab, agrees. Research is still ongoing, she says, but lab analyses show no indication of animals suffering from issues related to acoustics”. http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2012/02/just-ask-could-sonar-be-responsible-for-cape-cod-dolphin-strandings.html Lastly, PBS brings in the Navy, “The United States Navy has operated one marine training exercise on the East Coast this year, according to U.S. Navy spokesman Lt. Matt Allen. The exercise, Operation Bold Alligator, occurred between Jan. 30 and Feb. 12 in and around the coasts of southern Virginia and North Carolina. High frequency active sonar may have been used in this operation, Allen said. “This type of sonar is used for depth finding and mine location purposes, and is similar to fathometers, which are used by fisherman,” he said. “But it’s short range and has never been associated with marine mammal strandings.”http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2012/02/just-ask-could-sonar-be-responsible-for-cape-cod-dolphin-strandings.html

So why the smoke screen? Where is any mention of Comptuex JTFEX? Why is it unreasonable for United States Taxpayers to question Naval activities in relation to Cape Cod or any other stranding? In reality the Navy has a permit to “take” many more common dolphins annually on the Atlantic Ocean than the nearly 180 that stranded on Cape Cod.

“The Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command, 1562 Mitscher Ave., Ste 250,
Norfolk, VA 23551-2457 and persons operating under his authority (i.e., Navy), are authorized
to take marine mammals incidental to Navy activities conducted as part of the Atlantic Fleet
Active Sonar Training (AF AST) in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico in accordance with
50 CFR Part 216, Subpart V– Taking and Importing Marine Mammals; U.S. Navy’ s Atlantic
Fleet Active Sonar Training (AF AST) subject to the provisions of the Marine Mamma l
Protection Ac t (16 U.S.C. 1361 e t seq.; MMPA) and the following conditions”

http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/pdfs/permits/2011_afast_loa_coverletter.pdf

This Authorization is valid for the period February 7, 2011, through January 21, 2012
(i) Mysticetes:
(A) North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis) – 733
(B) Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) – 4622
(C) Minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) – 457
(D) Sei whale (Balaenoptera borealis) 1163
(E) Fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus) – 970
(F) Bryde’s whale (Balaenoptera edeni) 40
(G) Blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) 881
(ii) Odontocetes:
2 (A) Sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) 10734
(B) Pygmy or dwa r f sperm whales (Kogia breviceps or Kogia sima)
4822
(C) Beaked Whales (Cuvier’s, True’s, Gervais’, Sowerby’s, Blainville’s,
Northern bottlenose whale) (Ziphius cavirostris, Mesoplodon mirus, M.
europaeus, M. bidens, M. densirostris, Hyperoodon ampullatus) 5398
(D) Rough-toothed dolphin (Steno bredanensis) – 2979
(E) Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) 667482
(F) Pan-tropical dolphin (Stenella attenuata) – 153237
G) Atlantic spotted dolphin (Stenella frontalis) – 413917
(H) Spinner dolphin (Stenella longirostris) – 23271
(I) Clymene dolphin (Stenella clymene) 51082
(1) Striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba) 192196
(K) Common dolphin (Delphinus spp.) 106106 
(L) Fraser’s dolphin (Lagenodelphis hosei) – 381
(M) Risso’s dolphin (Grampus griseus) 103483
(N) Atlantic white-sided dolphin (Lagenorhynchus acutus) – 22716
(0) White-beaked dophin (Lagenorhynchus albirostris) – 3795
(P) Melon-headed whale (Peponocephala electra) – 1819
(Q) Pygmy killer whale (Feresa attenuata) 308
(R) False killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens) 592
(S) Killer whale (Orcinus orca) – 553
(T) Pilot whales (Short-finned pilot or long-finned) (Globicephala
macrorynchus or G. melas) 140132

4. (a) The taking of marine mammals by the Navy is only authorized if it occurs
incidental to the use of the following mid-frequency active sonar (MFAS) sources, high
frequency active sonar (HF AS) sources, or explosive sonobuoys for U.S. Navy anti-submarine
warfare (ASW), mine warfare (MIW) training, maintenance, or research, development, testing,
and evaluation (RDT &E) in the amounts indicated below:
(i) AN/SQS-53 (hull-mounted sonar) – 3214 hours
(ii) AN/SQS-56 (hull-mounted sonar) – 1684 hours
(iii) AN/SQS-56 or 53 (hull-mounted sonar in object detection mode) – 216
hours
(iv) ANIBQQ-10 or 5 (submarine sonar) – 9976 pings (v) ANI AQS-22 or 13 (helicopter dipping sonar) – 2952 dips
(vi) SSQ-62 (Directional Command Activated Sonobuoy System (DICASS)
sonobuoys) – 5853 sonobuoys
(vii) MK-48 (heavyweight torpedoes) 32 torpedoes
(viii) MK-46 or 54 (lightweight torpedoes) 24 torpedoes
(ix) AN/SSQ- l l OA (lEER explosive sonobuoy) – 1725 sonobuoys
(x) AN/SSQ-125 (AEER) sonar sonobuoy) – 1550
(xi) AN/SLQ-25 (NIXIE – towed countermeasure) – 2500 hours
(xii) ANIBQS-15 (submarine navigation) 450 hours
(xiii) MK-1 or 2 or 3 or 4 (Submarine-fired Acoustic Device Countermeasure
(ADC» – 225 ADCs
(xiv) Noise Acoustic Emitters (NAE – Sub-fired countermeasure) – 127 NAEs
(b) l i the number of sonar hours, dips, torpedoes, and sonobuoys indicated in Condition
4(a) are exceeded by more than 10 percent, subsequent LOAs issued under the AF AST final rule will ensure that the total activities over five years do not result in exceeding the amount of authorized marine mammal takes indicated in 50 CFR 216.242(c).

http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/pdfs/permits/2011_afast_loa_coverletter.pdf

This Authorization is valid for the period January 22, 2012, through January 22,2014

(i) Mysticetes:
2 (A) North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis) 1466
(B) Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) – 9244
(C) Minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) – 914
(D) Sei whale (Balaenoptera borealis) – 2326
(E) Fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus) – 1940
(F) Bryde ‘ s whale (Balaenoptera edeni) – 80
(G) Blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) – 1762
(ii) Odontocetes:
(A) Sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) – 21468
(B) Pygmy or dwa r f sperm whales (Kogia breviceps or Kogia s ima ) -
9644
(C) Beaked Whales (Cuvier’s, True’s, Gervais’, Sowerby’s, Blainville’s,
Northern bottlenose whale) (Ziphius cavirostris, Mesoplodon mirus, M.
europaeus, M. bidens, M. densirostris, Hyperoodon ampullatus) – 10796
(D) Rough-toothed dolphin (Steno bredanensis) 5958
(E) Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) – 1334964
(F) Pan-tropical dolphin (Stenella attenuata) – 306474
G) Atlantic spotted dolphin (Stenella frontalis) 827824
(H) Spinner dolphin (Stenella longirostris) – 46542
(I) Clymene dolphin (Stenella clymene) – 102164
(J) Striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba) – 384392
(K) Common dolphin (Delphinus spp.) – 212212
(L) Fr a s e r ‘ s dolphin (Lagenodelphis hosei) – 762
(M) Risso’ s dolphin (Grampus griseus) – 206966
(N) Atlantic white-sided dolphin (Lagenorhynchus acutus) – 45432
(0) White-beaked dophin (Lagenorhynchus albirostris) -7590
(P) Melon-headed whale (Peponocephala electra) 3638
(Q) Pygmy killer whale (Feresa attenuata) – 616
(R) False killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens) – 1194
(S) Killer whale (Orcinus orca) 1106
(T) Pilot whales (Short-finned pilot or long-finned) (Globicephala
macrorynchus or G. melas) 280264
(U) Harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) – 337658

The taking of marine mamma l s by the Navy is only authorized if it occurs
incidental to the us e of the following mid-frequency active sonar (MF AS) sources, high
frequency active sonar (HFAS) sources, or similar sources, for U.S. Navy anti-submarine
warfare (ASW), mine warfare (MIW) training, maintenance, or research, development, testing,
and evaluation (ROT &E) in the amounts indicated below:
(i) . AN/SQS-53 (hull-mounted sonar) – 6428 hours (an average of 3214 hours annually)
(ii) AN/SQS-56 (hull-mounted sonar) – 3368 hours (an average of 1684 hours annually)
(iii) AN/SQS-56 or 53 (hull-mounted sona r in object detection mode) – 432 hours (an
average of216 hours annually) (iv) ANIBQQ- I0 or 5 (submarine sonar) – 19952 pings (an average of9976 pings
annually)
(v) AN/AQS-22 or 13 (helicopter dipping sonar) – 5904 dips (an average of2952 dips
annually)
(vi) SSQ-62 (Directional Command Activated Sonobuoy System (DICASS) sonobuoys)
11706 sonobuoys (an average of 5853 sonobuoys annually)
(vii) MK-48 (heavyweight torpedoes) – 64 torpedoes (an average of 32 torpedoes
annually)
(viii) MK-46 or 54 (lightweight torpedoes) – 48 torpedoes (an average of24 torpedoes
annually)
(ix) AN/SSQ- l i OA (IEER explosive sonobuoy) – 3450 sonobuoys (an average of 1725
sonobuoys annually)
(x) AN/SSQ-125 (AEER) sonar sonobuoy) 3100 sonobuoys (an average of 1550
sonobuoys annually)
(xi) AN/SLQ-25 (NIXIE – towed countermeasure) 5000 hours (an average of2500
hours annually)
(xii) ANIBQS-15 (submarine navigation) 900 hours (an average of 450 hours annually)
(xiii) MK-I or 2 or 3 or 4 (Submarine-fired Acoustic Device Countermeasure (ADC»-
450 ADCs (an average of225 ADCs annually)
(xiv) Noise Acoustic Emitters (NAE – Sub-fired countermeasure) – 254 NAEs (an
average of 127 NAEs annually)
(b) I f the number of sonar hours, dips, torpedoes, and sonobuoys indicated in Condition 4(a) are exceeded by more than 10 percent, subsequent LOAs issued under the AF AST final rule will ensure that the total activities over five years do not result in exceeding the amount of authorized marine mammal takes indicated in 50 CFR 216.242(c).”

http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/pdfs/permits/afast_loa2012.pdf

So what does all this mean for dolphins and whales. The numbers of cetaceans that may be “taken” or “harassed” by sonar is huge. In addition, today’s new sonar is more powerful than ever before traveling further and covering even greater distances than ever before yet how does the Navy determine if cetaceans will be effected? By visually looking for whales and dolphins, “Lookouts shall be trained in the most effective means to ensure quick and effective communication within the command structure in order to facilitate implementation of mitigation measures i f marine mammals are spotted”http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/pdfs/permits/2011_afast_loa_coverletter.pdf  In other words any whale or dolphin diving deep that is not visually detected becomes a casualty.

A video made long ago in 2003 by Ken Balcomb cetacean scientist, demonstrates the painful and devastating effects of sonar. The viewer can only imagine how much stronger sonar and other sounds produced by live Naval warfare games are today and the effect they have on our ocean friends.

It is time to take action. Non government funded organizations and people worldwide are demanding the Navy silence their deadly sonar. The trade off is too great. It is time for the world to open their eyes to the deadly sounds being introduced into the world of dolphins and whales. The ocean is their habitat not mans. Isn’t it time we start putting the ocean and her creatures first.

What you can do?

1) Don’t just take the word of government funded organizations that continue to spread propaganda about sonar. Sonar is very real and it is deadly to whales and dolphins!

Contact the Freedom of Information Act and request location of ships involved in Comptuex JTFEX and Bold Alligator. In addition, request sonar emissions and underwater charges. In addition request necropsy level C data. 

Join us on as we continue to fight the people of the sea. We agree national security is important but at what cost to dolphins whales and all the sea creatures that call the ocean home.