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

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


By Kirsten Massebeau

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

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

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

How many more must die for war games!

How many more must die for war games!

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

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

EXAMPLE COMMENTS…….

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

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

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

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

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

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

Petitions you can sign!

Bruce Mate not hooked to Double Hooked Barbed Darts


By Edward Johnson
4T24Q7NP83YW The last time I used ” double hooked barbed dart tags,” it related to the unusual path that Flex my magic western Pacific Gray Whale, took along our coast. At that time I said, ” We have not yet fully debated some of the critical questions that surround this migration. They include: Double hooked barbed dart attachment methods and associated risks to the health and well-being of marine mammals when extended tracking is required.” I strongly implied they had been used without checking the principal research scientist in charge. Today on this blog we passed 500 visits. Unfortunately many of those bloggers will never see the correction regarding the above incorrect assumption. Based on contacting the senior researcher from OSU, Corvallis, OR. Dr. Bruce Mate, an apology and correction can be made. This is a huge lesson for me, and could have been avoided by extending the courtesy and contacting Dr. Mate, prior to my blog. This man is one impressive dude, with a resume’ as long as a giants arm. Basically he stated that he has not used the double hooked barbed dart tags since the 1990’s. Further this position was reached after consultation with veterinarian experts and his own human ethical position. In that exchange he also explained his approach for tagging when satellite tracking methods were necessary.
Thanks again for the gracious, informative, respectful manner which you handled my relative ignorance. Bruce Mate you are a Champion!!

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

Stop NOAA from Tagging Orca’s File # 781-1824


Dad spent all morning on this. Follow the path below to give Orca’s a voice.

Email your objections to: laura.morse@noaa.gov

or write to:

Chief, Permits, Conservation and Education Division

NMFS, 1315 East-West Highway, Room 13705,
Silver Spring, MD 20910

File No. 781-1824
In opposition to proposed Permitting

Decision Makers:
I am opposed to this proposal based on the following:
1) The size of the resident pod that is designated for this study is so small that based on tagging up to 20 orcas per year would mean all pod members could be involved over a five year period.
2) The method of tagging is questionable, and resulted in the death of at least one mammal. This based on past research conducted by NMF when high powered air guns were used to deliver the dart.
3) Once tagged long term puncture wounds can develop which could put these mammals at risk for potential debilitating diseases.
4) Less invasive tracking methods have been identified which would provide much more data over longer periods of time as compared to the proposed dart tagging which lasts a maximum of 90 days.

The work of various individuals, societies and organizations have made well documented efforts to understand our fellow community members. It is an affront to their extreme intelligece, and exposes them to unwarrented risks. By all means please deny this proposal and allow for futher review and hopefully modifications which will include input from a caring human community.

Edward W. Johnson
Cannon Beach, OR 97110