Pilot Whales Maybe Victims of Friendly Fire by The Navy


BY Kirsten Massebeau and Barbara Napoles

Pilot whales are again discovered on the Gulf of Mexico that lies within the Navy’s Atlantic Training Range. NOAA’s update:

“The U.S. Coast Guard continued to search for the stranded pilot whales during the weekend with no luck. Around 1pm Sunday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found 11 dead pilot whales on Snipe Point in the lower Keys about 6 miles north of Sugar Loaf Key. We believe these are part of the original pod of 51 stranded pilot whales. A rescue team is in route”.(source)

Whales were riding the tide. When the Gulf emptied they were left on the shelf.

Whales were riding the tide. When the Gulf emptied they were left on the shelf. By NOAA

NOAA ,scientists and ocean activists believe the whales that stranded on Snipe Point, north of Sugarloaf Key are part of the original 51 whales that stranded at Highland Point.

Whales trapped on ocean shelf by low tide.

Whales trapped on ocean shelf by low tide.

Barbara Napoles, experienced ocean navigator, and Floridian,explained it simply: “The current carried the whales to Snipe point, the Gulf is like a bowl that empties it’s contents into the Atlantic at low tide”.

It could be speculated that the whales were unable to navigate due to acoustic damage. They were simply carried by the current and as the Gulf emptied the whales were stranded on the shallow shelf between the keys.

Activists are wondering why NOAA/NMFS seems unaware of the Naval exercise taking place in the Atlantic Training Complex especially considering  there is an OPAREA  A danger zone is a defined water area used for target practice, bombing, rocket firing or other especially hazardous military activities, (a restricted air space used for Naval Exercises and Training) in the Florida Keys:” Via NOAAthe team is waiting to hear from the Navy.”(source)

The “Spartans” of NAS Jacksonville-based Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 70 operate the MH-60R anti-submarine Seahawk helicopter from onboard the Bush and her accompanying ships”.(source) The MH60R helicopter used during the Bush Strike Group Comptuex training exercises is fully loaded, a deadly weapon that has the ability to kill, harm, “take” whales and dolphins. 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.

“Scientists will arrive Monday to take samples of these 11 whales to determine cause of death. They are hoping to get better samples to investigate possible disease or biotoxin (e.g., red tide) causes. While there is no evidence to suggest sonar trauma, the team is waiting to hear from the Navy”.(Source)

NOAA/NMFS decision to wait until Monday to even begin the necropsy process on these whales is in itself negligent. The bodies of the whales will  have been decomposing for at least 18 hours and exposed to the elements. In addition, their denial that the whales showed signs related to acoustic trauma ie, disorientation, and inability to navigate as discussed in this article: Underwater sonar systems really DO cause whales to become stranded – because the high frequencies disorientate themseems they are trying to cast the blame away from the Navy and the cetacean victims of their friendly fire.

Short finned pilot whale

Short finned pilot whale by Pablo Gil

While Naval readiness is important when do we begin to question the clear cutting of our oceans by the ever increasing Naval exercises taking place in the waters off our shores. It’s time to clean up our own back yard and question the activities of the Navy and NOAA/NMFS who have rubber stamped their activities.

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

Navy Sonar Runs Free While Feds Give Cousteau and Black the Hammer


By Edward Johnson

During the past few days some recent activities by the Dept. of Justice have involved the interpretation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). Their interpretation of the MMPA seems to swing on a pendulum that contrasts greatly. While the feds have confiscated Jean Michelle’s boat, and convicted Black of harassment they readily authorize the Navy to conduct exercises that like Operation Dawn Blitz 2013 that has been connected with the fleeing of 1000 dolphins.

Nancy Black  Photo credit: Matt Ferraro

Nancy Black
by Matt Ferraro

In the first case which included a 9 year lapse between incident and action by the Federal Government a boat owned by Jean-Michel Cousteau was confiscated. In that event Cousteau in cooperation with Monterey Bay marine biologist Nancy Black made a video of killer whales actively feeding on a gray whale calf. In an attempt to get closeup shots Black  was accused of securing a part of the whale calve and then using it as a draw for the orca. Ultimately Black admitted to wrong doing and is now on probation. Cousteau who was nearby filming during the event now, years later, has had his own boat confiscated by the Federal Government because of this incident.

2000 Bahamas stranding caused by Naval Sonar

2000 Bahamas stranding caused by Naval Sonar

In contrast NOAA and NMFS continues to issue the Navy permits for their ever increasing Naval exercises where sonar, and other underwater technologies are used that have been proven to be deadly for cetaceans and other marine life. While Black and Cousteau have been hounded over one incident related to the MMPA the Navy has not been held accountable and the government contiues to support exercises that are blatantly in violation of the MMPA.

Proximity of Dana Point and Operation Dawn Blitz

Proximity of  A) Dana Point and B) Camp Pendleton Exercise off the coastal zone

Operation Dawn Blitz is taking place from June 11-28th, 2013 off the San Diego coastline in close proximity to Dana Point where there is the largest population of common dolphins in the world. Looking at the permit submitted by the Navy, here is a map showing the location of these exercises including the area both North & South of Dana Point.

Marines and sailors from 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade, I Marine Expeditionary Force and the U.S. Navy’s Expeditionary Strike Group-3, Commander, Third Fleet, announced the official commencement of multinational amphibious exercise Dawn Blitz 2013 off the Southern California coast, June 11-28.

Published on Jun 17, 2013

A mega pod of thousands of Common Dolphins engulfed Captain Dave’s Dolphin and Watching Whale Safari catamaran while stampeding off the coast of Orange County, California. At the very same time Operation Dawn Blitz was taking place close by or in the same vicinity of in the Marine Protected area. While NOAA and NMFS feverently go after the small fish violating the MMPA like Nancy Black and Jean Michele Cousteau while the big fish, in this case the Navy, goes about the business of “taking” marine mammals as usual without even a slap on the wrist.

Multinational Naval Exercise Meant Death and Destruction for Pilot Whales and Orcas


By Kirsten Massebeau

Naval exercises in the North Sea and Atlantic Ocean Concluded April 29, 2013

Naval exercises in the North Sea and Atlantic Ocean Concluded April 29, 2013

The military is calling their multinational Naval exercises a success: “A giant exercise off the coast of Scotland which involved more than 30 warships and 65 aircraft from 13 European countries has drawn to a close”. During their exercises the Navy tried to recreate war-time situations through the use of sonar, underwater detonations, and other tactical maneuvers.

As well as the Royal Navy and Royal Marines, elements of the Army, RAF and forces from countries including the Netherlands, Canada, France, Denmark, Belgium, Norway, Poland, Sweden and Germany, also took part. There were a total of around 12,000 personnel involved. (Source)

3 pilot whales stranded near Portmahomack, Easter Ross April 25, 2013

3 pilot whales stranded near Portmahomack, Easter Ross April 25, 2013

On April 25, 2013 three pilot whales stranded near Portmahomack, Easter Ross. The stranding was immediately connected to the military operations forcing the exercise to move, “Bosses behind the biggest military exercise in Europe were forced to relocate their operation after three whales became stranded on a Scots beach” (source) Sadly the Navy’s change of location would be too late for the three pilot whales, one of which died. 

5 orcas strand off the Coast of Iceland April 29, 2013

4 out of the 6 orcas that stranded off the Coast of Iceland April 29, 2013 died

The biggest Naval exercises in European waters would continue to take it’s toll on cetaceans. On April 29, 2013 five orca stranded off the coast of Iceland. Although none of the countries present have stepped forward to take the blame for the death of this pod the evidence continues to point in the direction of sonar or underwater explosions. Although Iceland is 834 miles from Scotland two points must be made:

1) The exercises were moved

2) The use of sonar in each submarine, and warship could have been used anywhere and at anytime. It’s use is not exclusive to exercises.

April 29, 2013 Iceland a dying orca with bloody eyes cries out for it’s podmates

The information connecting cetacean strandings is always difficult to obtain but don’t we as citizens of the world and advocates for cetaceans and the ocean have a responsibility take action for the dolphins and whales who need our help so desperately. Sonar and seismic testing are deadly to cetaceans. Isn’t it time we started questioning it’s use worldwide. When does the price for war games played in the ocean become too great?

Read an updated article that connects all the dots and lists additional deaths!

Military excercise Joint Warrior & Marine Mammal Casualties: 6 killer whales, 4 pilot whales and one Sowerby’s beaked whale

Acoustic Naval Experiment Promises Deadly Consequences for Whales Dolphins of the Western North Pacific Ocean


By Kirsten Massebeau

Proposed locations of the sonar experiment http://1.usa.gov/15ZUgLl

Proposed locations of the U.S. Naval acoustic experiment (source)

The Office of the Naval Research (ONR) is proposing an acoustic technology experiment (ATE) during spring, summer 2013 in the Western North Pacific:

The nine provinces are discrete areas identified with the following 5 geographic titles as presented in the analysis results herein: Sea of Japan, East China Sea, South China
6 Sea, North Philippine Sea, West Philippine Sea, East of Japan, Offshore Guam, Northwest Pacific 7 Ocean: 25º to 40º North latitude, and Northwest Pacific Ocean: 10º to 25º North latitude.. No more than 8 four underwater acoustic sources will be employed during the experiments, with none of the ONR ATE 9 sources transmitting concurrently, and with all sources operating below 1.5 kilohertz (kHz) and a sound 10 pressure level (SPL) less than 220 decibels (dB) for a total of no more than 69 hours of acoustic
11 transmissions over six days (Source)

All active sources will transmit below 1.5 kHz and a SPL less  15 than 220 dB for a total duration of no more than 69 hours (hr) over six at-sea days (source)

All active sources will transmit below 1.5 kHz and a SPL less
15 than 220 dB for a total duration of no more than 69 hours (hr) over six at-sea days (source)

If the permit to perform this ATE sea life,whales and dolphins living in an already challenging Western North Pacific Ocean riddled with long line fishing, trawlers, hunting, shipping strikes and shipping noise will be exposed to 220 dB for extended periods of time as seen in the chart above.

2000 Bahamas stranding caused by Naval Sonar

2000 Bahamas stranding caused by Naval Sonar

Connections between Naval acoustic activities and strandings are on the rise. While few strandings due to sonar are acknowledged by the Navy the stranding in the Bahamas in 2000 was confirmed and the effects were devastating as noted by cetacean researcher and expert Ken Balcolmb in an interview discussing the 2000 stranding in the Bahamas:

Yes there’s actually hemorrhaging going on. It isn’t an auditory injury per se. It affects the ears, but this pressure damage is not related to whether or not the whales have temporary threshold shift in their hearing [a hearing loss]. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) says these injuries are survivable-and they are, but only with hospitalization. And whales don’t have that option. (source)

Navy sonar recorded 2003 in the Puget Sound.

Orca approach researchers

Orca approach researchers Puget Sound, Washington

Join the voice of opposition to the use of Naval Sonar and all acoustic devices in the oceans.

Please leave a comment asking NOAA/NMFS to deny the Navy’s request for a permit to do  acoustic experiments in the North Pacific. The comment period on this permit ends on May 2, 2013 so get your comment in today! 

Comments on the application should be addressed to P. Michael Payne, Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910. The mailbox address for providing email comments is ITP.Magliocca@noaa.gov.

Read the entire permit proposal hereFollow the permits as they are listed here.

Permit would allow U.S. Navy to Clear Cut The Oceans of Whales and Dolphins


By Kirsten Massebeau

The U.S. Navy is seeking authorization to “take” the largest number of whales, dolphins and seals in history.

The term “take,” as defined in Section 3 (16 U.S.C. § 1362 (13)) of the MMPA, means “to harass, hunt, capture, or kill, or attempt to harass, hunt, capture, or kill any marine mammal.” “Harassment” was further defined in the 1994 amendments to the MMPA, which provided two levels of “harassment,” Level A (potential injury) and Level B (potential disturbance). (Section 5)

A record 31 million marine mammals will be injured and killed, at the very least their lives disrupted during Naval training exercises off the Atlantic, Hawaii, and Southern California Coast Range during the 5 year period if the permits are granted.

King Island Tasmania 2009 stranding. Scientists believe that naval sonar from both Australian and US Navy may have been responsible. — Island,Tasmania 2009

King Island Tasmania 2009 stranding. Scientists believe that naval sonar from both Australian and US Navy may have been responsible. — Island,Tasmania 2009

“It’s the largest proposed authorization of these levels of harm since such authorizations have been required under the US Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). The Navy’s mid-frequency sonar has been implicated in mass strandings of whales and dolphins across the globe. In 2000, 14 beaked whales and several other marine mammals stranded themselves in the Bahamas in response to U.S. Navy vessels operating offshore mid-frequency sonar. Further investigations revealed bleeding around the whale’s ears and brains”.(source)

Picture by Sandy Sullivan taken at Jeremy Point, Wellfleet 2012

Picture by Sandy Sullivan taken at Jeremy Point, Wellfleet

In the Atlantic alone 2,599 striped dolphins, 2,203 common dolphins, and 1,854 Atlantic spotted dolphins are slated to be injured and killed (Class A). That is only naming a few of the species that will be killed as a by-product of Naval training. Many other millions of encounters are requested in both the Atlantic permit and the Hawaii Southern California Permit citing (Class B) ranging from harassment to temporary hearing loss as seen in the permit request for the Atlantic Fleet Training and testing area:

Over the 5-year LOA period being requested, the Navy requests 1,735 total Level A harassments and 11,559,236 total Level B harassments for all marine mammals combined for testing activities, excluding ship shock trials. 

For one CVN ship shock trial, the Navy’s requests a maximum of 6,591 Level A harassments and 4,607 Level B harassments over the 5-year LOA period. (Source 5.2.1)

Sonar and the explosions created by underwater detonations are deadly to marine mammals. The injuries are painful and death may come slowly as injured and disoriented dolphins and whales flounder for days or weeks in the ocean eventually stranding or dying at sea:

“Many of these beached whales have suffered physical trauma, including bleeding around the brain, ears and other tissues and large bubbles in their organs.

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”.(source)

Be a voice for the voiceless! We must insist that the Navy start scaling back their sonar and war games not increasing them. In addition, the Navy’s reliance on people known as “look-outs” to detect marine mammals is unacceptable and inefficient as whales and dolphins spend most of their lives underwater.

What you can do!

Join the event on Facebook Saving Whales and Dolphins from Sonar Navy Massacre!

The two permits now available for comment until March 11, 2013: 

1)  2012 U.S. Navy Atlantic Fleet Training and Testing Activities (AFTT)

2) 2012 U.S. Navy Hawaii Southern California Training and Testing Activities (HSTT).

United States Citizens Only:

1) Protect Constituents Rights of Appeal on NOAA Marine Mammal Permit Application. The Navy and NOAA/NMFS are trying to take away your right to be a voice for marine mammals. Follow this link the sign the petition.

2) Prohibit Military Sonar and Seismic Testing Harming Marine Mammals. Sign the petition

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!