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