Whales depend upon their hearing for survival and loud sounds above a certain level can permanently damage their sonar detection.
The US Navy knows this, and still plans to conduct extensive sonar tests in the ocean that set off loud booms, distressing and damaging to whales and dolphins. Past sonar tests have been linked to mass strandings by sea mammals that became didoriented or were temporarily deafened by the underwater blasts.
The Natural Resources Defense Council is fighting the Navy’s plans for coastal US waters, arguing that these exercises aren’t necessary for military readiness. It has set up a petition to protest. Residents of the US who’re concerned about saving sea mammals — who’re facing numerous other threats, like continued hunting and acidifying oceans — can sign the petition to Secretary of the Armed Forces Chuck Hegel.
The Navy itself estimates that its planned exercises will kill up to 1,000 whales, according to the NRDC, which has been fighting sonar testing for several years. Another 13,000 whales could be permanently harmed by the upcoming tests, the group reports.
“This mid-frequency sonar will bombard whales with noise so intense — up to 236 decibels — it can actually cause their internal organs to hemorrhage,” says actor and ocean advocate Pierce Brosnan, who’s signed on to champion this campaign.
That’s about twice as loud as a rock band with the sound cranked up.
“It’s distressing that the Navy refuses to put commonsense precautions in place that could protect whales during routine training — especially because taking such steps would in no way compromise our military readiness. Whales should not have to suffer or die for military practice.”