Thursday, January 17, 2008

Save the Whales

After a rocking good storm from our coastal low which will pummel the East Coast on Friday, lots of excitement as the Surf's Up T-shirt shop nearly burns to the ground here on SPI, big news. But today's topic are the whales, which has received a lot of attention in the news, lately.

One involved the Sea Shepard, a conservation group that literally stormed a Japanese whaling "research vessel" in the south seas. I'm not going to advocate piracy in order to save the whales, but it certainly does make the international headlines.

The other is a closely watched court decision in California courts regarding protecting whales from very strong mid-frequency sonar power used by the Navy for hunting rogue submarines. A judge recently imposed an injunction against all such sonar training where whales were either spotted or known to gather. However, President Bush just signed an order to allow the Navy to be exempted, saying that the sonar exercises “are in the paramount interest of the United States.”

So I guess our Bushie-Boy is a certified whale killer like the Japanese, how cute. Of course, the conservationists and scientists are livid about the recent developments, which are certainly headed for more litigation.

The effect of high-power sonar waves such as those used by the Navy have been conclusively proven to cause whale strandings, such as 16 whales that died in the year 2000 during Navy exercises off the Bahamas. Scientists claimed that the decibel level of the underwater noise was 100,000 times that of a human voice. A common thread is that the impacts on other sea creatures such as turtles are not fully known, although some research indicates "deaf turtles" and possible impacts on loggerhead turtles off the Carolinas.

I'm all for national security but I still think we should be mindful of endangered species such as the Right Whale. It should be pointed out that whales such as the Sperm Whale and Melon-Head are indeed relatively common in the northern Gulf of Mexico (a melon-head, similar to a pygmy killer whale, washed up on our beach last year and we tried to save it). It should be pointed out that such sonar testing is (1) experimental and (2) that even is it works great at finding "silent submarines," it must be towed behind a ship with about a mile of cable. My second point raises the issue that one must know there is an enemy submarine in the area before even sending a ship to find it.

Sounds like more Star Wars gadgetry to me, a good way to blow a billion in the name of being tough on homeland insecurity.

1 comment:

Sam said...

I hate rogue thoughts but I just thought of one ... that the whales should be recruited for tagging with a microchip, if that could be done. Like dolphins and bats, whales use echo-location to navigate, find food, and avoid danger. So instead of blasting out megawatts of sonar power, perhaps we should be listening to the whales instead.