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Navy says training in Hawaii may kill whales, dolphins

By Audrey McAvoy

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 12:24 p.m. HST, Aug 30, 2013

Navy training and testing could inadvertently kill hundreds of whales and dolphins and injure thousands over the next five years, mostly as a result of detonating explosives underwater, according to two environmental impact statements released by the military today.

The Navy said that the studies focused on waters off the East Coast, the Gulf of Mexico, Southern California and Hawaii from 2014 through 2019, the main areas that the service branch tests equipment and trains sailors.

The studies were done ahead of the Navy applying to the National Marine Fisheries Service for permits for its activities. The Navy said that it if hadn't done so and was later found to have harmed marine mammals, it would be found in violation of federal environmental law and have to stop its training and testing.

Most of the deaths would come from explosives, though some might come from testing sonar or animals being hit by ships.

Rear Adm. Kevin Slates, the Navy's energy and environmental readiness division director, told reporters this week the Navy uses simulators where possible but sailors must test and train in real-life conditions.

"Without this realistic testing and training, our sailors can't develop or maintain the critical skills they need or ensure the new technologies can be operated effectively," Slates said in a conference call with reporters on Wednesday.

According to the reports, computer models show it may kill 186 whales and dolphins off the East Coast and 155 off Hawaii and Southern California.

The Navy said it developed the estimates by totaling the hours it will test and practice with sonar, torpedoes, missiles, explosives and other equipment over five years. Experts then combine the data with what's known about the marine mammals and then use computer modeling.

Off the East Coast, there could be 11,267 serious injuries and 1.89 million minor injuries like temporary hearing loss. The reports said the testing and training might also cause marine mammals to change their behavior -- such as swimming in a different direction -- in 20 million instances.

Off Hawaii and Southern California, the reports said that the naval activities may cause 2,039 serious injuries, 1.86 million temporary injuries and 7.7 million instances of behavioral change.

But Michael Jasny, senior policy analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the Navy was underestimating the effect its activities on marine mammals.

For example, he pointed to a study by government and private sector scientists published just last month in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society showing mid-frequency active sonar can disrupt blue whale feeding. The study says feeding disruptions and the movement of whales away from their prey could significantly affect the health of individual whales and the overall health of baleen whale populations.

Jasny said the Navy's ocean activities are "simply not sustainable."

"These smaller disruptions short of death are themselves accumulating into something like death for species and death for populations," Jasny said.

One of the statements covers Hawaii and Southern California, while the other covers the East Coast and Gulf of Mexico.


Hawaii and Southern California Training and Testing EIS: www.hstteis.com

Atlantic Fleet Training and Testing EIS: www.aftteis.com

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Mahalo wrote:
So Americans are no better than Japan who intentionally are in their Dolphin/Whaling killing season!
on August 30,2013 | 12:05PM
false wrote:
At least the mammals killed in Japan are eaten for food.
on August 30,2013 | 12:43PM
EightOEight wrote:
Not a good enough reason for killing these highly intelligent and social animals, especially the whales in violation of the international moratorium under the guise of doing "research". Arrogance and greed...
on August 30,2013 | 01:18PM
EightOEight wrote:
Nature will bite back, and however it happens, man will deserve it.
on August 30,2013 | 01:03PM
ryan02 wrote:
Humans have really thrown off the balance of nature. At some point (probably not in the next generation or two, but at some point) the Earth will self-correct.
on August 30,2013 | 02:03PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Flipper and Willie don't like the Navy.
on August 30,2013 | 01:34PM
gtracer66 wrote:
Just what country has a Navy that can effectively threaten the U.S. Navy? The U.S. Navy already has more power than just about all the navies of the world combined. Why do they feel the need to endanger intelligent creatures just to become more deadly. As stated elsewhere, there are treaties to protect whales and dolphins. Just because the "U.S. Navy" wants to kill them for training purposes, doesn't make it any better than those who would decimate the seas for commercial purposes, or in the case of Japan, "research" Think back to an old Star Trek movie where there were no whales left and they represented earths last hope for survival. It was fiction, but what if?
on August 30,2013 | 02:05PM
gtracer66, I dont think the Navy "wants" to harm the whales-this is the reason a study was done. They want to train, but, do it in a way that will minimize harm the ecosystem.
on August 30,2013 | 02:47PM
SteveToo wrote:
Because of the growing danger from the Chinese Navy. We have to stay at the top of the game.
on August 30,2013 | 05:22PM
editors wrote:
Outrageous. If they must train, why do it in one of the most ecologically sensitive spots on the entire planet? Could they not move these exercises somewhere else?
on August 30,2013 | 02:32PM
Shh wrote:
Well if the Navy knows this then why would they want to cause harm to these beautiful mammals? Human kind has caused most of the damages to the world and continues to destroy whatever the world has left.
on August 30,2013 | 03:20PM
ElHefe808 wrote:
If the Navy pulls out of the Hawaiian Waters, what would the implications be? Economically? Hawaii struggles enough as it is for families to make "ends meet". Aside from tourism, the Military keeps Hawaii moving. Talk to ANY business owner that has a business next to a base that is deployed. See their balance sheets. It is not good. The Federal Gov't is already cutting wages of 14,000 employees in Hawaii up to 20%. Imagine you being not only in that position, but now the Navy leaving Hawaii. from a 20% cut to NOTHING. Now, seeing it from the ecological standpoint. The adverse effects on the mammal population would be devestating if the number of mammals continually get killed. The eco-system may suffer. I do not realize the adverse affect on the people of Hawaii in general. I am not being insensitive to those that love the mammals in question, I love them too. I am just ignorant to those facts. That's all. I really haven't given it any thought. However, when the time comes to pay for my electric, gas, food, clothing and shelter. Working for a job that pays for me to fulfill those responsibilities that are supported by the Navy and other Armed Forces here in Hawaii. I honestly don't think about Dolphins and Whales too much. Just being honest. Please don't hate!!!! Perhaps someone out there can shed some light on the topic so that I can become informed.
on August 30,2013 | 03:57PM
rayhawaii wrote:
Hopefully they use the dead animals and fish for their lunch and dinners and don't let them go to waste.
on August 30,2013 | 04:05PM
SteveToo wrote:
Dat's the breaks. Defense first.
on August 30,2013 | 05:21PM
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