October 23, 2013 at 2:23 am #697MikeKeymaster
NEW YORK (June 1, 2005) — The Bush administration is withholding a
large quantity of evidence about severe harm caused to whales,
dolphins and other marine life by high-intensity military sonar,
according to a lawsuit filed today in New York federal court. Ocean
mammals around the globe have been found dead or dying following the
massive sonic blasts.
The lawsuit was brought under the Freedom of Information Act by NRDC
(Natural Resources Defense Council), a national conservation group.
It seeks thousands of pages of documents related to mass strandings
and mortalities of marine mammals exposed to military sonar. NRDC
requested the material from the National Marine Fisheries Service and
the U.S. Department of Commerce more than a year ago, but so far
those agencies have turned over only 12 documents totaling fewer than
Some of the documents withheld by the administration pertain to a
recent mass stranding of whales along the Outer Banks of North
Carolina, which garnered national attention last January. No
information from that stranding has been released to the public
despite repeated requests.
“The Bush administration is sitting on box-loads of data that show
the devastating impact of military sonar on whales,” said Michael
Jasny, a senior policy consultant for NRDC. “The public has a right
to know what is happening to these majestic creatures, and the Bush
administration is breaking the law by stonewalling.”
The Navy’s mid-frequency, active sonar systems generate sound of
extreme intensity to locate objects in the ocean. Marine mammals have
extraordinarily sensitive hearing, and there is no scientific dispute
that intense sonar blasts can disturb, injure, and even kill them,
according to NRDC.
“Whales exposed to high-intensity sonar have been found bleeding from
the eyes and ears, with lesions the size of golf balls in their organ
tissue. Biologists are concerned that the whales we see dying on the
beaches are only the tip of an iceberg and that many more are dying
at sea,” Jasny said.
In recent years, there have been numerous mass strandings and
mortalities of whales and other marine mammals associated with sonar
use, including in the Bahamas, Hawaii, Washington State, and North
A report concluding that the association between sonar and whale
mortalities was “very convincing and appears overwhelming,” was
issued last year by the Scientific Committee of the International
Whaling Commission, one of the world’s leading bodies of whale
biologists. Even the Navy acknowledged that its use of sonar off the
Bahamas in March 2000 resulted in the stranding of 16 whales of three
The National Marine Fisheries Service has been involved in many of
the investigations into sonar-related strandings, but the Bush
administration so far has not turned over the large quantity of
information it possesses. NRDC’s lawsuit asks the court to order the
Bush administration to turn over all of the requested records.
NRDC has been a leader in uncovering information about the impact of
high-intensity sonar on whales, dolphins and other marine life, and
its expertise in the field is widely recognized. In 2003, NRDC won a
groundbreaking lawsuit forcing the Navy to scale back deployment of a
dangerous new sonar system that uses low-frequency sound waves that
can travel thousands of kilometers. (Read the press release.)
Sonar is an acronym for “sound navigation and ranging.”
The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, nonprofit
organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists
dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in
1970, NRDC has more than 1 million members and online activists
nationwide, served from offices in New York, Washington, Los Angeles
and San Francisco.
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