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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Opposition to Sonar Indian Ocean


By Edward Johnson                                                       Photo provided by KPBS

Another permit for taking of marine mammals will undoubtly be approved by the Dept. of Commerce, NOAA,and the National Marine Fisheries Service(NMFS). We made a post asking others to submit similiar objections on this issue. https://championsforcetaceans.com/2011/12/13/u-s-navy-surtass-lfa-program-and-the-taking-of-marine-mammals/ This issue will not go away any time soon and will only happen when and if conclusive scientific evidence is submitted proving that the danger of this technology is outweighed by the risks to the marine community.The following is my letter submitted to NOAA in opposition to the use of multiple air guns abbreviated (SURTASS-LFA) off South Africa and listed as being in the Indian Ocean.

Department of Commerce

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration                                                                                                                   Michael Payne Chief of Permits Education and Conservation                                                                                     National Marine Fisheries Service

RE: RIN 0648-XA792Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Physical                                                                                                                                            Oceanographic Studies in the Southwest Indian Ocean

January -February 2012 Specified Activities; Physical Oceanographic Studies in the Southwest Indian Ocean,January through February, 2012

RE: Opposition to RIN 0648–XA792

In Sept of this year I opposed RIN 0648–XA507,  a similar request to conduct sonar testing in the Pacific Ocean between the Hawaiian Islands and Guam.  My intent here is to again reiterate concerns as well as add additional challenges that I have identified since that submission. The Dept. of Defense in accordance with what I assume is the MMPA has previously agreed to certain limitations regarding testing SURTASS LFA in zones adjacent to continental landmasses which I will categorize as continental shelves. The limit that has been established is 20 km or 12 miles. The mire fact that testing is no longer conducted in shallower waters is in fact an admission of the potential danger to marine mammals in these near shore environments. Previously, the navy has admitted to the wrongful death, based on traumatization of marine mammals,’ in cases that include Puget Sound and the Bahamas documented by Ken Balcomb. Granted these where mid-range frequency sonar systems and at higher decibel level sonar deployments but the proof has resulted in less invasive equipment, less area for conducting testing, and less deadly outcomes with living communities within all oceans, seas and bays.  A further indication of the potential compromising of the well-being of marine animals has been the establishment of some 20 worldwide marine reserves which are presently protected from activates such as those being advocated by this particular request.  These 20 global reserves admittedly are a small step, looking at the globe, 20 dots is hardly discernible when considering the vastness of all oceans and seas, this is really a minimal effort. What is significant is the admission that a need exists to preserve habitat that might be otherwise affected by adverse anthropomorphic activities in this case sonar testing.

Verification of events that have occurred in pelagic zones, simply identified as open oceans and beyond continental shelf zones, occurred last month in the Mediterranean Sea in which whales (Cuvier’s beaked whales)unknown to this area and considered pelagic stranded themselves in some cases and others washed ashore dead. After undergoing necropsies the determined cause of death was similar to what had previously occurred in the Canary Islands. http://aeinews.org/archives/1698/comment-page-1#comment-429 . The point that just because we think something is true does not mean it is the absolute truth.  The implication here is it was thought that pelagic zones adjacent to shallower water would not funnel sound from deeper to swallow. Based on what was reported the sound was heard at waters edge by those involved in rescue attempts during the actual stranding. Here is the actual quote from that article, ” rescuers in two separate locations during the initial strandings report hearing a “whistling” noise at 10-15 second intervals; it’s quite likely that this sound was what drove the animals ashore. While rare, this is not the first time that humans above the water have heard underwater sound transmissions during stranding events.”   The actual video with Ken Balcomb is included here because of the factual presentation of what really happens. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=O9gDk29Y_YY  Granted events such as these will no longer happen because of the restrictions on sonar in Puget Sound as well as the Bahamas. However as I have mentioned the new occurrence in the Mediterranean resulting in the deaths’ of Culviers beaked whales and the fact this testing was conducted in pelagic waters bring new questions on this technology. Specifically bathymetric parameters must be considered even in deeper ocean waters adjacent to land masses. At this time I have no knowledge if such conditions are found within the identified areas of Southwest Indian Ocean where this research will take place. It would be most important to postpone this and all permits of this nature until the reoccurrence of similar events can be eliminated.

The following are lifted directly from the permit application and have been selected as points of contention that deserve diametric comments.

“Acoustic stimuli (i.e., increased underwater sound) generated during the operation of the air-gun array may have short-term behavioral disturbance for marine mammals in the survey area.”

My Comment: The wording,  “may have short-term behavioral disturbance,” is greatly oversimplified based on the preponderance of evidence claiming the opposite. The mire posting of the story from the Mediterranean last month provides factual evidence that seismic sounds most certainly can cause behavioral changes. I previous have mentioned Ken Balcomb and have found the following statement which too me expose the real danger of LFA.

“Therefore, based on two significant mass mortality events (Greece and the Bahamas) the body of evidence indicates that not only is resonance with LFA and sonar frequencies a problem for beaked whales, the sound pressure level of 180 dB RL is demonstrably not safe, and it is probably not safe for other cetaceans (two minke whales and a dolphin also stranded in the Bahamas incident). Aversion and/or physiological damage evidently and repeatedly occurs in beaked whales at levels of somewhere between 150 and 180 dB RL (probably nearer the former) of either low frequency or mid-frequency sonar signals in the whales=92 normal habitat. Clearly, the impact of high-powered rapid-rise acoustic energy (such as sonar), particularly at airspace resonance frequency, on these animals is occurring at significant distances well beyond the current mitigation distance (1-2.2 km) used by the Navy. These impact distances can be easily calculated, and they are more like 20 to 100 kilometers, and more well over the horizon of shipboard observers.” Copied from http://www.acousticecology.org/oceanlfasbalcomb.html   Here again we not only have proof that damage will occur but well beyond distances attributed as safe. At some point the applicant insinuates that the height of the boat above the water line (42 ft.) will allow for save observation of approaching whales. Based on the above the listed distance at which 160 db, will be heard is in fact more than a factor between 10 at the least to as much as 50 greater than the distance damaging sound waves will be heard . What the Navy needs to do is build ships with observation towers basically 10 to 50 times as high. This is ridiculous so this entire premise should be retracted or eliminated.

“Take is not expected to result from the use of the multi-beam echo-sounder (MBES), subbottom profiler (SBP), or ADCPs, due to the narrow and directional acoustic beam field of the MBES, the attenuation rate of high-frequency sound in seawater, and the motility of free-ranging marine mammals.”

My Comment: The term motility implies free swimming , to move spontaneously and actively. Again this is greatly oversimplified based on the preponderance of evidence claiming the opposite. Within your own documentation I have found that some species of whales will avoid those areas ensonified and in other species stop communicating when encountering ensonification.

I appreciate that individuals have the opportunity to make comments on projects that will impact marine populations. In this particular case the ocean has been contaminated by sounds which have interfered with the ability of sea creatures to survive. NOAA must stop awarding permits to the U.S. Navy and Ocean Research companies, that are injecting into the ocean, intrusive sound waves into an already confusing and damaging array of anthropogenic created wave forms.

This was submitted on Dec 21, 2011 just prior to the deadline.

Free Lolita from Seaquarium End Cetaceans in Captivity


Today, when I conducted my regular search on whales, I was looking for a follow-up on a previous search regarding Killer Whales sighted off Malibu, Cal.  Since Feb. 8th when I entered this inquiry, no one has responded.  The actual occurrence took place on Jan. 19. What I instead found was the well documented story about this former Killer Whale Pod member Lolita(check link below for full story) kidnapped, abducted, shanghaied, sold to the highest bidder by whatever method, to become a captive slave for mega corporation Wometco Enterprises Incorporated. After listening to and watching that document, we at Champions for Cetaceans, will do everything within our power to further the cause resulting in returning her to the Puget Sound.  This story is adding up to be another FREE WILLIE. How many times must we go through this exercise before the public rectifies such outlandish cruel treatment.  Seaquarium representatives apparently are not interested in the million dollars being offered to purchase this 40-year-old. They say it would be impossible to transport it, when their own slavery practices periodically move these genetically close relatives of ours, to a new corporate setting, wherever the greatest revenue will be gained. Boycott all Marine Mammal Amusement Parks, and all aquariums with cetaceans on display. Can you imagine spending your lifetime in a small room without windows or sound. When Lolita is done performing and doing tricks, and all the people have gone, she spends the rest of her day alone in a cement tank cut off from the sounds of the ocean, and her family still alive in Washington.
Lolita the Killer Whale
Naturally, seeing the size of the human trainers standing on the stage gives a perspective on Lolita’s size. The bottom picture is of dirty water at Seaquarium. I can find no reference of any reputable authority that approves of the physical facility where way too many cetaceans have perished. This place, with the exception of Lolita, has been and continues to be a death trap.
Disgusting!!

http://blog.seattlepi.com/candacewhiting/2011/02/22/eyewitness-account-of-the-orca-lolitas-traumatic-arrival-at-the-amusement-park-whales-name-linke

Japanese end Antarctica whaling for 2011


By Kirsten Johnson
Japans whaling efforts, at least for this year in the Antarctica, have ended. In this case, as has been reported throughout the internet, many factors are at play. Certainly, the efforts of the Sea Shepherds and Capt. Paul Watson, are responsible for pushing the entire issue to the public forefront. I find it most interesting that, “Whale Wars” hero, Captain Watson, lists his home port as Friday Harbor, Washington  which in my mind is one of the worlds hot-spots for whaling issues and in particular killer whale research and watching. If you have not already found the Whale Museum and their web site, http://www.whale-museum.org/ it really keeps one current on the what is happening on cetaceans. I need a history lesson on how all this ties together, but Ken Balcomb the international recognized marine mammal expert, should also be mentioned for his significant contributions. Based on his efforts, Navy Sonar has come under close scrutiny which has resulted in a huge shift in public understanding of the dangers associated with the damaging effects it has on whales.  Further his efforts to expose an equally devastating practice on marine species is the use of  LIMPETS, also known as double hooked barbed darts used in tagging.  We at Champions for Cetaceans have posted several blogs on these issues.

While reading an excellent article that criticized  whaling on “The Diplomat” called, “Why did Japan Suspend Whaling?” written by Andy Sharp,  I came upon a great comment by the author Animux. What he said really sums up the issue on whaling and why the Japanese must stop now.

  1. AnimuX

    February 17, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    “The world’s whaling industries drove nearly every large species of whale to the brink of extinction. As the public grew to learn more about whales in the 1960s and 70s, opposition to whaling took shape. What some people fail to mention, or understand, is that Japan has a long history of whaling regulatory violations dating back to the 1930s.

    Japan has historically violated size limits, species protections, seasonal limits, sanctuary boundaries, all manner of quotas, and has even facilitated “pirate whaling” (that’s front companies with foreign labor illegally killing whales and smuggling the unreported meat to Japan). The current whaling operation is merely the latest incident in an established pattern of criminal behavior. Japan kills more whales than any other nation and acts as the world market for whale meat by importing endangered Fin whale from Iceland.

    The International Whaling Commission established a moratorium on all commercial whaling in 1986 and the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary in 1994. the IWC has also passed multiple resolutions calling on Japan to stop killing whales. However, Japan continues to abuse the “science loophole” of the ICRW (International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling) as justification for subverting the democratic decisions of the IWC.

    Japan annually kills endangered Sei and Fin whales, vulnerable Sperm whales, Bryde’s whales (listed as data deficient), common Minke whales (many from the vulnerable J-stock), and Antarctic Minke whales (listed as data deficient by the IUCN but some research implies this species may have suffered a significant decline). Also, coastal fishermen annually slaughter tens of thousands of dolphins for human consumption despite mercury contamination.

    Jun Morikawa, author of “Whaling in Japan”, has written that whale meat was only ever a “substitute meat” during the post WWII recovery. When the economy recovered, Japanese families purchased other meats (even when whale was significantly cheaper) and consumer demand for whale has consistently declined since the 1960s. Today, only a tiny fraction of the Japanese population actually consumes whale meat.

    The historical tradition of killing and eating whales is limited to a small number of isolated coastal villages. In fact, in some regions of Japan whales were once worshiped and never eaten (an aspect of Japanese culture that is somehow overlooked in this conflict). Since the start of the 20th century, Japanese whalers have used Norwegian (not traditional) industrial whaling techniques and technology in order to maximize profits like any other modern industry.

    According to Morikawa, the whaling programs only continue in order to support entrenched bureaucrats (amakudari) who often leave their government jobs to take high paid positions in the commercial whaling industry they once oversaw, and secured tax-subsidized funding for, as public officials.

    Due to the cost prohibitive effort to acquire this commodity, whale meat is a luxury food item. Large stockpiles of whale meat remain in cold storage as a result of poor demand. However, the government of Japan continues to prop up the failing industry in many ways. For example, the government has purchased large quantities of whale meat back from Kyodo Senpaku (the commercial arm of the industry) at a reduced price and included the meat in school lunch programs. Otherwise, Japanese children might never taste whale in their lives. (So much for tradition.)

    Fisheries officials have publicly admitted the interference from Sea Shepherd has forcibly reduced the total catch for several years. In private (Wiki-leaked) discussions more officials have admitted Sea Shepherd interference has also increased domestic pressure on the government regarding whaling. However, other organizations have contributed to this effort.

    Greenpeace’s exposure of a whale meat embezzlement scandal certainly raised eyebrows and tempers within a Japanese public already fed up with government corruption.

    “The Cove” became a free speech issue within Japan when nationalist extremists used intimidation tactics to have the award winning documentary banned.

    The UK’s Sunday Times recently uncovered evidence of Japanese representatives bribing Caribbean officials for IWC votes in an undercover investigation.

    Australia has filed against Japan’s “research whaling” with the International Court of Justice.”Global opposition to whaling, including protests and petitions, is growing. Japan is the focus of this opposition because of the scale of its whaling industry and its blatant defiance of international conventions.” http://the-diplomat.com/tokyo-notes/2011/02/17/why-did-japan-suspend-whaling/

Flex the magic western grey whale, on to California!


By Edward Johnson
This is our second post on this particular story, unannounced he slipped right by us here in Cannon Beach, and as a crow flies under our nose. It seems he is following a path along our outer continental shelf and heading at a rate much faster than estimated by OSU scientist Bruce Mate. Two weeks ago, he projected him to be off the mid-Oregon Coast by mid-February. Looks like he will be a good hunk of the distance to San Francisco by then. My wife accuses me of speculating too often but it is appearing more likely that he has done this before as his trajectory seems to have picked the shortest distances between two points. Equally important is the source of potential food, which based on my reading and understanding, would be at minimum during migration.  But why has he positioned himself on the line of one of the planets greatest breadbaskets the coastal outer upwelling zone. Granted this time of year generates lower nutrients, sunlight, phytoplankton and zooplankton availability.  Blooms may be sporadic but could provide sustenance (Gray Whales generally consume up to 0.4 % of their body weight per day about 12 lbs or 26 kg). Another source of nutrient pump potential is that of the recent migration of our coastal Gray Whales. Whale poop is big as it provides the same nutrient needs as deep ocean upwelling, which in turn keeps reasonable phytoplankton populations which result in higher invertebrate numbers desired by Flex and his folks.

Our hopes and passions rest with these critters and we have not yet fully debated some of the critical questions that surround this migration. They include: Double barred dart attachment methods and associated risks to the health and well being of marine mammals when extended tracking is required. Should worldwide restrictions be placed on mineral extraction when it will impact critical habitat of endangered species. Sonar is critical for naval operations as well as for the marine mammal food gathering, navigation, securing mates and maintaining families therefore the advancement of the formal leads to the demise of the latter. We need to join together to protection the life potential of Flex and his water brethren.  Ed

http://mmi.oregonstate.edu/Sakhalin2010

Killer Whales Flee Deadly Naval Sonar


This video, narrated by Ken Balcomb from the Center for Whale Research, will give you a good idea of how sonar effects Cetaceans. In this video the whales frantically try to get away from the ear shattering, brain crushing  sounds.
To think  that these killer whales are not impacted by naval sonar is complete ignorance.

Last month when 33 whales were stranded and died in the British Isles. The British Navy immediately took the bodies of the pilot whales away to do necropies. That was over a month ago and still no results have been released.  There should   have been a release of the findings  to the public  yet that hasn’t happened. Why not ? Possibly the interests of the Navy are  again at stake. Watch the video above and judge for yourself. I think that even the Navy must ADMIT that Sonar is destroying Cetaceans each time they unleash their deadly sounds with little regard for our oceanic brethren.