The US Navy Agrees to Reduce Deadly Sonar for Cetaceans off California and Hawaii

by Owen James Burke

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Photo: John C. Bruckman/Flickr.

Mankind is a blaring bunch, yet it’s only with the help of machines that we’ve been able to disrupt the so-called ‘Silent World’ below. And even with the advantage of technology, hardly any noise we create reaches a decibel as high as that of the blue whale, the loudest animal on earth, whose unmuffled songs would do more damage to year eardrums than the roar of a jet plane.

A couple of sounds we produce–namely sonar and seismic testing–more than make up for whatever shortcomings our clamoring may have in comparison the blue whale’s seemingly woeful melodies.

This, as you might assume, disrupts not only blue whales, but all cetaceans who are equipped with sonar, a sort of 6th sense which we humanoids had to spend immeasurable amounts of money, time, energy and resources to create.

Earlier this spring, NOAA created an interactive mapping tool to detail when and where cetacean populations dwell and congregate in hopes of bringing attention to the relatively recent discovery that our undersea cacophony projections are reaching more than the oil that lies beneath the ocean floor.

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Above: NOAA’s interactive cetacean and sound mapping tool. Image: NOAA.

This past weekend, as a result of a decades-long court battle between the Natural Resources Defense Committee (NRDC) and the US Navy, an agreement was made that the US Navy would lay off sonar use off Southern California and Hawaii during times of the year when cetaceans are present and susceptible to the noise.

Now, if only big oil will follow suit. Read more at onEarth. –OJB

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