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.
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.
To learn more:
- Read the post from the Associated Press: Navy: Training, Testing May Kill Whales Dolphins
- Read the statement from the Navy: Navy Releases Final Environmental Impact Statements for At-Sea Training and Testing Activities
- Check out this post from the LA Times: Navy rejects coast panel’s call to curb use of sonar, explosives
- Take a look at the location-specific websites: Atlantic Fleet and Hawaii-Southern California
Copyright © 2013 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.