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

No Dolphinariums in Europe: June 28 Demo Gives Dolphins Hope for Freedom

By Kirsten Massebeau

Demo Banner by Sasha Alazy

Demo Banner by Sasha Alazy

Demonstrators opposing dolphinariums and captive facilities in Europe are organized and ready to go! On June 28, 2013 they will gather in Brussels with a loud and clear message to Europe demanding closure of all captive facilities. According to the demonstrators captive facilities are in direct opposition to the law:

The European Council Directive 1999/22/EC on the keeping of wild animals in zoos requires that animals must be kept in conditions that meet their biological and conservation requirements. Yet in the case of cetaceans, it is impossible for these requirements to be met in captivity. Because no tanks, no lagoons as big as they can be, could ever replace the freedom of swimming in the immensity of the ocean (source).

Marineland Antibes

Marineland Antibes dolphin show

Today there are 34 captive facilities and 286 cetaceans in captivity in Europe. Those countries include:Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. “WDCS anti-captivity lead, Cathy Williamson states, these commercially driven, circus-style shows may seem like fun but the truth is much sadder”. Ric O’Barry of the Dolphin Project describes captivity as a life of silence and isolation: “Most captive dolphins are confined in minuscule tanks containing chemically treated artificial seawater. Dolphins in a tank are severely restricted in using their highly developed sonar, which is one of the most damaging aspects of captivity. It is much like forcing a person to live in a hall of mirrors for the rest of their life – their image always bouncing back with no clear direction in sight”(source).

25% of the cetacean population in captive facilities in Europe were obtained from a wild source meaning capture or strand while the captive born dolphins are being bred from small breeding pools. According to born free these facilities breeding pools are unsustainable which will force dolphinariums to purchase wild dolphins: “The captive population is unsustainable. Captures of wild dolphins for captivity still goes on in some parts of the world.

Bottlenose dolphins have last moments together before being dragged to slaughter.  By SSCS C.G. 1.20.13

Bottlenose dolphins have last moments together before being dragged to slaughter.
By SSCS C.G. 1.20.13

The danger remains that if the number of dolphinaria in the EU remains the same or increases that attempts may be made by dolphinaria to import further wild-caught dolphins into the EU which contradicts EU law, too” (source)

Two long time dolphin advocates in Europe Yvon Godfroid and Annelies Mullens could see the unsustainable situation, and the terrible dolphin suffering taking place in captive facilities throughout Europe and worldwide. Independent of all groups they decided to organize a demonstration. They realize that the hunt in Taiji and other places will never end as long as dolphinaria exists. They realize that as long as dolphinaria exists the dolphin hunt will go on.

As dolphins don’t thrive good in captivity the dolphinaria will need “fresh” genes so the dolphin hunt will go on. They have the principle that before throwing stones at other countries you have to clean up your own backyard first. So in order to stop the dolphin hunt they will fight the dolphinaria in Europe (source)

European Demonstration Brussels

European Demonstration Brussels

How can you help the dolphins and get involved in the Belgium Demonstration? Join Ric O’Barry and attend the event in Brussels! You can sign up on Facebook: Demonstration against Captivity of Cetaceans in Europe! If you are not in Europe and cannot attend the even you can still be a voice for the dolphins and support the demonstration by making a donation no matter how small or large to the Europe Must Ban Dolphinaria Demo. You can find more information on the actual demo at: For a Delphinarium-free Europe!!! You can also sign the petition All dolphinaria must be closed in Europe!!!


Dolphin freedom is so worth fighting for. Together we can make a difference.

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

Atlantic Seismic Survey Promises Death and Devastation for Dolphins,Whales, and other Sea Life

By Kirsten Massebeau

FIGURE 1. Location of the proposed seismic surveys and OBH/S instruments at the proposed study site in the northeast Atlantic Ocean during  June–July 2013, and marine protected areas in Spain.

FIGURE 1. Location of the proposed seismic surveys and OBH/S instruments at the proposed study site in the northeast Atlantic Ocean during
June–July 2013, and marine protected areas in Spain.

The month of June thru July 12, 2013 promises death and destruction for dolphins, whales, and all the sea life in the Northeastern Atlantic ocean as a seismic survey takes place in a marine protected area. Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (L-DE) are planning to do a seismic survey with funding from the U.S. National Science Foundation to search for gas and oil deposits. This planned high energy seismic survey will take place  in International waters in and within the exclusive zone (EEZ) of Spain in water depths greater than 3000 meters or approximately 1 and 3/4 miles under the surface. The Marcus G. Langeth will be towing a 18 gun array of 160-190 Db of deadly sound. The intervals between blasts would be 15 seconds for 39 days without stopping. “Seismic airguns are used to find oil and gas deep underneath the ocean floor. Airguns are so loud that they disturb, injure or kill marine life, harm commercial fisheries, and disrupt coastal economies. These dynamite-like blasts—which are repeated every ten seconds, 24 hours a day, for days and weeks at a time—are 100,000 times more intense than a jet engine.  Seismic airgun testing currently being proposed in the Atlantic will injure 138,500 whales and dolphins and disturb millions more, according to government estimates”.

Blue Voice was on the scene as 2800 dolphins continued to wash up on the beaches of North Peru

Blue Voice was on the scene as 2800 dolphins continued to wash up on the beaches of North Peru

Every day more strandings and cetacean deaths are linked to seismic testing and sonar. In 2012 the deaths of 1000’s of dolphins off the coast of Peru was linked to acoustic trauma:

“The marine veterinarian, Carlos Yaipen-Llanos, who is president of the conservation group Orca Peru, said in an interview that necropsies that he and his colleagues performed on three separate expeditions indicated that the dolphins examined were bleeding in their middle ears and had suffered fractures there. They also had gas in their solid internal organs and severe acute pulmonary emphysema, symptoms consistent with death from decompression sickness — that is, the bends, he said.

“The animals died from decompression sickness caused by acoustic trauma,” he said” (source)

How a seismic test works

How a seismic test works

Air gun before and after discharge.  By Ocean Conservation Research

By Ocean Conservation Research

Listen to the sound of a seismic survey. Try to this explosion repeating every 15 seconds for over a month. Remember this survey has an 18 air gun array!

What can you do? Sign the petition created by Ted Danson and be a voice for dolphins, whales and all ocean life. 

The 2013 Torture and Slaughter of Sea Lions Commences in the Pacific Northwest

By Kirsten Massebeau

Port of Astoria March 24, 2013 By Sea Shepherd Conservation Society Dam Guardians

Port of Astoria March 24, 2013 By Sea Shepherd Conservation Society Dam Guardians

No marine mammal is safe when it comes to protecting the rights of commercial fisherman and anglers. Oregon and Washington are not about to give up even 1% of the salmon they harvest each year even if it means killing sea lions. Thanks to a court ruling National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)  is using lethal force to stop the Columbia River Sea Lions from taking salmon at the Bonneville dam where salmon struggle each year to make it through the man-made fish ladders. Any sea lion that visits the Bonneville dam more than twice will be killed or sent to marine parks such as Sea World to live their lives in captivity giving marine parks and aquariums a new source of display animals.

Panicked sea lions packed into a floated cage are branded one by one.March 24, 2013 by SSCS Dam Guardian

At the Port of Astoria panicked sea lions packed into a floated cage are branded with a hot iron one by one.
March 24, 2013 by SSCS Dam Guardian

“In 2011, sea lions consumed just over 1% of the salmon run at the same time that Oregon and Washington permitted fisheries in the Columbia River to harvest as much as 12 percent of the very same run”. (Source)

The Human Society makes some very good points as to why the salmon are not recovering. Sadly, again we find the work of human beings as reasons causing the collapse of salmon not the sea lions.

  • The plan to shoot sea lions coincides with estimates that this spring’s Columbia River salmon run is likely to be the among the fourth largest since 1980 while, as of the date of lethal removal authorization, only two California sea lions had been seen at the dam, the fewest to date of any year since 2003 and the time each animal spends at the dam has been steadily declining over the past few years.
  • The major causes of salmon losses are:

Dams: NMFS estimates the Federal Columbia River Power System kills 16.8 percent of adult Snake River Basin Steelhead and 59.9 percent of juveniles.

*Hatcheries: In 2009, a Congressionally mandated science panel found that current fish hatchery practices interfere with recovery and are in urgent need of reform.

*Fishing: The states annually authorize the incidental take of between 5.5 and 17 percent of the Upper Columbia spring Chinook and Upper Snake River spring/summer Chinook.  Additional salmon are killed in ocean fisheries. Employment of selective gear would permit wild, ESA-listed salmon and steelhead to be released unharmed when caught in the Columbia River fisheries that target abundant hatchery fish.

*Other Predators: Bird predators consume millions of juvenile salmon in the Columbia River estuary each year. NMFS scientists also estimate that non-native walleye that are intentionally stocked by the states in the Columbia River eat up to 2 million juvenile salmon a year.  (source)

Branded sea lions at the Port of Astoria by SSCS Dam Guardians March 24, 2013

Branded sea lions at the Port of Astoria by SSCS Dam Guardians March 24, 20113

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s Dam Guardian’s are working in full force to document the injustices against the sea lions. SSCS Dam Guardian Ellie Buchanan recounts the cruel hazing of 30 sea lions on Palm Sunday:

Palm Sunday for some is supposed to be a peaceful holiday. We woke to the sounds of sea lion screams coming from Pier 36. We scrambled to get dressed, get our equipment, and get down to the docks. We were astounded by the sight of 30 + beautiful sea lions, in sheer terror, climbing upon each other and crying out in fear. Trying to escape their human captors. Sea Lions literally filled the trap, and the weight was causing the cage to sink.
The sea lions sitting on the docks were also upset. Little ones were swimming up to see their friends in the trap.
Matt from O.D.F.W. would bang on the bottom of the trap with a stick and the only way out of the trap was to go into the squeeze cage. Where they would be held tightly against their will, their movements restricted while seering hot irons were pressed into their flesh. (source)

A wounded sea lion struggles for life. March 22, 2013By SSCS Dam Guardians

An injured sea lion struggles for life after being branded. March 22, 2013
By SSCS Dam Guardians

A question many Oregonians have is how will this impact tourism? Ellie Buchanan SSCS Dam Guardian had first hand experience with this on Palm Sunday:

A woman was screaming “Don’t hurt the babies, Matt, how do you sleep at night?” We talked to tourists who heard the sea lions and this woman screaming. They flocked to the pier, and walked away with the truth about what is happening to our oceans, and to marine wildlife on The Willamette and Columbia River. I noticed they would come with smiles on their faces and left looking disturbed. With horror and tears on their faces.
With tears streaming down our face, we refused not to look away. We documented this horror for over six hours. (Source)

Sea lions at the Bonneville Dam March 22, 2013By SSCS Dam Guardians

Sea lions at the Bonneville Dam March 22, 2013
By SSCS Dam Guardians

Visit the website Sea Shepherds Dam Guardians and find out how you can join the campaign to save the sea lions.

Please join the event on Facebook Rock The #DamTweet For Sea Lions! There you will find many ways to take action so that you too can help to stop this terrible injustice to sea lions.

Champions for Cetaceans Daily Scoop: Dolphins die in The Faroe Island

By Kirsten Massebeau

Welcome to Champions for Cetaceans first daily scoop. Each Day I will be presenting a cetacean event. I plan on making these posts very short in order that I may have time to put them up daily. That will allow subscribers to have a daily look into important ocean, and cetacean issues:


On September 23, 2012 a pod of 25-30 pilot whales was driven into the shallows Vestmanna in the Faroe Islands and slaughtered. The method is described here. Although the meat is poisonous with Mercury and other PCB’s the grinds continue. Since June 16, 2012  636 pilot whales have been slaughtered.

23.09.2012 Vestmanna 25 218 Grindahvalir Rakstrar- og drápspartar

Link for the above data and grinds for current and past years 

The grind was reported on as is every grind.

The grind is opposed by cetacean conservation groups worldwide because:

1) “The work has revealed damage to fetal neural development, high blood pressure, and impaired immunity in children, as well as increased rates of Parkinson’s disease, circulatory problems and possibly infertility in adults”.  (Source)

2) The killing method is inhumane as noted by WDCS International who have asked the Faroe Islands to stop the dolphin slaughters (Source)

3) The hunt is unsustainable. Pilot whale numbers are data deficient (Source)

In addition, dolphins have large brains very similar to mans as explored in this article on Dolphin Way

Champions for Cetaceans supports and end to this cruel hunting of dolphins. We appeal to the Faroe Islands to find a way to live in peace with these amazing beings. By ending the hunt they will also make the work load easier for the next generation of Faroe Islanders that will end up the caregivers for those negatively impacted by the toxic dolphin meat.

Please join us on Facebook: Champions for Cetaceans

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”.

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”.

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”.

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”.

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)”> 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.

“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”.

“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”.

“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”

“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”.

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”

“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”.

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”. 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.”

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”

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)
(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
(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).

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 ) –
(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
(v) AN/AQS-22 or 13 (helicopter dipping sonar) – 5904 dips (an average of2952 dips
(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
(viii) MK-46 or 54 (lightweight torpedoes) – 48 torpedoes (an average of24 torpedoes
(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).”

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”  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.