What’s Going on With the Navy’s Training Program?

Written by on September 3, 2013 in Marine Life
Blue whales.

Blue whales. Photo credit: A. Lombardi, NOAA.

On Friday, the military released two ‘environmental impact statements‘ that assessed the possible damage that Navy testing and training would have on the marine environment and marine mammals, specifically.

Both the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act require the Navy to obtain permits for this kind of testing so they completed the assessment before applying for permits from the National Marine Fisheries Service.

They study focused on waters off the East Coast, the Gulf of Mexico, Southern California and Hawaii for a five-year period, from 2014 to 2019.

Computer models estimated the number of behavioral changes, injuries and deaths that will occur as a result of the testing and training activities. The models found that most of the damage would be from detonating explosives underwater but some would also be caused by sonar or animals being hit by ships.

Activities in the East Coast could kill 186 whales and dolphins. The models also showed that there could be 11,267 serious injuries, 1.89 million minor injuries and 20 million instances of behavioral changes.

In Southern California and Hawaii, activities could cause 155 whale and dolphin deaths, 2,039 serious injuries, 1.86 million temporary injuries and 7.7 million instances of behavioral change.

The Navy says that the large majority of the affected marine mammals will only experience temporary behavioral effects. They also say that these testing and training activities are required for proper and effective training.

Environmental advocates, however, believe that the Navy has underestimated the effect its activities will have on marine mammals, stating that plenty of studies have shown that even temporary effects can be extremely harmful.

Spinner Dolphins, Stenella longirostris.

Spinner Dolphins, Stenella longirostris. Photo credit: NMFS Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center.

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Copyright © 2013 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of MarineScienceToday.com. She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. She is also a PADI diver and dog lover. .

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