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LFAS / Active Sonar In the News

Active Sonar (including LFAS - Low Frequency Active Sonar) is a set of anti-submarine technologies which emit very loud pulses of sound into the ocean, and then listen for echoes in order to paint a snapshot picture of all objects within their range. Click here for an overview of Active Sonar....

The US Navy has stated that have "developed complex and costly measures to minimize risks to marine mammals" and that they "investigated the possiblity that there could be something in the structure of the LFA signal that posed a special risk for behavioral disruption in marine mammals." "Although some responses were measured, none of the responses indicated a potential for the disruption of biologically important activities." Click here for source...

However, the following articles document instances all over the world where whales have died on the same day that US and NATO Navy forces utilized active sonar nearby.

  navy sonar beached dead whale
photo: Petty Officer Donnie Brzuksa
-- U.S. Coast Guard, via AP
navy sonar harass dolphin
photo: Garden Island -- via AP
  While these news articles present circumstantial evidence and suggest that LFAS or Active Sonar is responsible for these deaths, we urge you to realize that nearly all species of whales are endangered, which means that their chances of survival - as a species - are already compromised. Human activities such as oil exploration, LFAS and Active Sonar add weight to their struggle and make it far more difficult for us to save them from extinction.

As the US Navy progresses with more Active Sonar deployments, the effects upon wild and endangered marine mammal populations becomes more evident to a growing number of witnessess.

In the photo to the left, a sunbather watches helplessly while 200 melon-head whales rush towards shore as the US Navy uses sonar in Hawaii.

Navy tests: linked to whale deaths - worldwide




Headline (click to view story)

April 2006 Tanzania 500-600 dolphin dead Sonar use may be linked to deaths of hundreds of dolphins
October 2005 Tasmania 130 pilot whales dead Navy denies blame for dead whales
March 2005 Florida 80 dolphins stranded, 29 dead Dolphins Stranded On Day Of Sub Mission
January 2005 N Carolina 37 whales ( multi-species) Whale Stranding in N.C. Followed Navy Sonar Use
July 2004 Hawaii 200 melon-headed whales harassed Navy Changes Claim On Sonar Use, and later:
Report cites Navy sonar in whale stranding
May 2003 Washington State 22 Orcas harassed, 10 dead dolphins Navy Quiet Over Possible Link To Porpoise Deaths, and later:
NMFS Report: Sonar Likely Affected Puget Sound Orcas
May 2003 Canada 7 dolphins U.S. Navy Pressed For Answers On Sonar Incident Off Vancouver Island
November 2002 Tasmania 9 Sperm whales Science Misses Chance To Study Whales' Beaching
November 2002 Scottland whales (undisclosed number) Royal Navy 'Secretly' Testing Sonar Blamed For Mass Deaths Of Whales
September 2002 Spain 17 whales (multi-species) NATO Blamed For Dead Whales
June 2001 Florida 2 Cuvier whales Investigation To Determine What Led To Whale Deaths
May 2000 Vieques, PR 10 whales (multi-species) Caribbean Whale Strandings Linked to Navy Activities
March 2000 Bahamas 16 whales (multi-species) Sonar From Navy Likely Killed Whales In The Bahamas
March 1998 Hawaii 3 humpback whales Dangers Of Sonar: 3 Motherless Calves Termed "Unheard Of"
May 1996 Greece 12 Cuvier whales Sonar Tests Linked To Beached Whales In Greece
March 1996 Florida 5 Right whales 5 Endangerd Whale Deaths Linked to US Navy

dead sperm
photo: Launceston Examiner
  When a whale dies, it almost always sinks. No witnesses. The news articles above document those few occasions when dying whales have managed to beach themselves - providing rare opportunities for us to learn of the Navy's underwater activities.

ANON is dedicating most of its resources to the task of elevating public awareness -- and subsequently applying pressure to the US Congress -- in order to prevent its deployment (at least until adequate research has proved that it is safe).

This issue is so important: we urge you to take the time to understand what is at stake. Please, click here to learn more about the science behind active sonar...


The first documented evidence that US Sonar was directly responsible for whale & dolphin deaths came from the US Navy itself. This research paper - a joint report by the US Navy and NOAA - meticulously rules out all other possibilities, and explicitly states that the cause of this stranding was the Navy sonar.

One of the world's leading orca researchers, Ken Balcomb, was there in the Bahamas when the calls began pouring in of stranded and dead whales all throughout the Bahamas. Tragically, he was a witness to yet another incident: this one was directly in front of his research facility in the San Juan Islands. Read his first-hand account of the effects of Navy Sonar on orca, porpoises and human observers - by Ken Balcomb himself. Initially, the US Navy denied that it's Destroyer had anything to do with the incident, but a recent report from NOAA Fisheries found otherwise.
  navy sonar balcomb
photo: Ken Balcomb

And More Evidence

Several news agencies devoted coverage recently to another new report, published in the journal Nature, which offers additional evidence that Active Sonar technologies are responsible for the deaths of whales and dolphins.

Essentially, researches in England and Spain found that whales who had died on the same day as NATO naval forces were utilizing sonar - died as a result of decompression sickness, or the 'bends'.


Headline (click to view story)

New York Times Whale Deaths Linked to Sonar
CNN Nature: Military sonar may give whales the bends
ABC News Study: Sonar May Cause Bends Disease in Dolphins
MSNBC News Scientists have new evidence that sonar damages ocean wildlife
Seattle Post Sonar tied to whale deaths
Washington Post Navy Sonar May Give Whales the 'Bends'
San Francisco Chronicle Report: Sonar linked to whale deaths
Honolulu Advisor Study links bends-like whale deaths to sonar
News24 Sonar, whale deaths linked
Melbourne Herald Sun Military link to whale deaths
Ananova (UK) Sonar 'causes whales to suffer the bends'
photo: AP News

Now consider this: we have fossil records showing that many species of whales have been essentially unchanged for over 50 million years. Living and diving in the sea - 24 hours a day - for their entire lives. How is it possible, then, that these whales suddenly 'forget' 50 million years of natural habit, and suddenly rush to the surface of the ocean so quickly that it causes a deadly case of decompression sickness?

dead whales carolina
photo: Kim Eiszele

Active Sonar in the Courts

July, 2002 President George Bush granted an exemption from the Marine Mammal Protection Act & the Environmental Protection Act to the US Navy to deploy LFAS.
August, 2002 The Natural Resources Defense Council filed suit to block the exemption (NRDC Press Release)
October, 2002 The US Federal Court in San Francisco granted the injunction.
November, 2002 The US Federal Court ordered a temporary compromise in which the Navy is allowed to deploy for testing purposes in a smaller (and hopefully less sensitive) area of the ocean (MS-NBC Article).

The MSNBC article states "The agreement does not preclude the Navy from using the system to detect modern, quiet submarines during wartime, and acknowledges that the Navy must be allowed to train with it beforehand."

What criteria the Navy might use to define "wartime" wasn't specified, and the possibility that the Navy may circumvent the Marine Mammal Protection Act remains a real concern.
May, 2003 The US Navy requests additional exemptions from the Marine Mammal Protection Act & the Environmental Protection Act under the Fiscal Year 2004 Defense Appropriations Bill. We at ANON strongly believe that this is an inappropriate use of fiscal policy

What criteria the Navy might use to define "wartime" wasn't specified, and the possibility that the Navy may circumvent the Marine Mammal Protection Act remains a real concern.
June, 2003 On June 30, the NRDC returns to court to argue before Federal Court our cause. The temporary compromise reached in November is nearly at an end, and the Navy wants the right to fully deploy however, whenever and wherever they see fit.
November, 2003 The United States Congress grants all military personnel complete exemption from the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Read how Congress striped power from environmental laws and what the world's press had to say about it.
October, 2005 A lawsuit was filed in Santa Monica, California on 19 October 2005 contending that the U.S. Navy has conducted sonar exercises in violation of several environmental laws, including the National Environmental Policy Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and the Endangered Species Act.

Click here for the full text of the active sonar lawsuit.

dead whales abacos
photo: Ken Balcomb

Help ANON save the whales:
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All images Copyright (C) 2000-2005, Line & Keith Wood. All Rights Reserved.
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