Digital downloads of favorite Pulse of the Planet programs – Pulse of the Planet, the long-running 2-minute public radio feature, is now offering large collections of mp3 versions of shows, grouped in popular themes. The first three sets (23-49 shoes each, priced at $5-9) focus on hurricanes and tornadoes, whales, and global warming. [WEBPAGE]
Blue Whale Deaths Surge in SoCal: Ships Strikes, Not Sonar is Cause, but Noise May Be Factor – An unprecedented surge in blue whale deaths in Southern California last year has raised concerns about shipping and noise in the busy shipping lanes there. Five blue whales were found dead on beaches last fall, and the three that were fresh enough to examine showed clear signs of being killed by ship strikes; examination of ear tissues showed now sign of hearing damage, and mid-frequency active sonar is not a factor. However, the researchers from the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, who performed the analysis of the whales, note that ambient noise levels in the area could have made it difficult for the whales to hear approaching ships, Read the rest of this entry »
Public Hearings Scheduled on Supplement to Draft EIS – The Navy has released a supplement to its Draft EIS for the Hawaii Range Complex, and is holding public hearings in March to collect public comments on the new aspects. Plans still hold to release the final EIS this spring, and a Record of Decision before the summer RIMPAC exercises. The supplement addresses several areas: fine-tuning of the methodology used to assess behavioral responses to sonar sounds, a lower estimate of total sonar use, and a new preferred alternative in which future sonar use will not increase over current levels, while other training is expanded as planned.Source: Hawaii Reporter/Pacific Fleet Press Release, 2/23/08 [READ PRESS RELEASE]
Dolpin Strands on Navy Island at End of Recent Sonar Exercises – A single deep-water Northern right whale dolphin was found live-beached on San Nicolas Island on January 29, during a heavily scrutinized Naval training exercise. Navy personnel returned it to the water several times, but it did not survive. Curators at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History worked all night to perform a necropsy because clues are lost to rapid decomposition. The head was removed and refrigerated, then taken to the nearby Alamo Pintado Equine Medical Center for magnetic resonance imaging. “At this point, we cannot rule in or rule out sonar or any other kind of intense noise,” said Teri Rowles, Read the rest of this entry »
Federal Judge Rejects White House Exemptions for CA Sonar (updated 2/19)– The federal judge who imposed additional safety requirements on Naval mid-frequency active sonar training off the California coast has rejected the Bush administration’s attempt to exempt the Navy from the laws she was enforcing. Central to this ruling is the fact that there is no “emergency” that warrents such intervention by the White House; the training missions at issue have been long planned, and can proceed, albeit with larger safety buffers and some geographic restrictions to avoid areas with higher numbers of whales.
Lawsuit, Claims of Science Supression Accompany New Chukchi Lease Sale – A consortium of native and conservation groups has filed suit in federal district court, contending that an impending MMS lease sale in the Chukchi Sea did not adequately assess environmental impacts. The suit claims that the risk of an oil spill, along with the effects of seismic survey noise and the combined effects of energy development and global warming, all should recieve more scrutiny before leases are offered. Meanwhile, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility has released emails and statements by former MMS marine mammalogist that charge the agency with changing key biological conclusions Read the rest of this entry »
Ship Noise in Santa Barbara Channel Studied – A hydrophone deployed on the ocean floor in the Santa Barbara Channel is listening in on passing ships and resident and transient whales; researchers from Scripps Institute will analyze the results in an effort to learn more about whether increasing shipping noise is hampering whale communication. Blue whales are the most commonly heard, and also the species whose calls occur in the frequency ranges dominated by ship noise. Megan McKenna, doctoral candidate at Scripps, says, “These animals evolved in a much quieter environment. You’ve got to think there has to be some threshold of them being able to use their acoustic capabilities in this noisy environment.” Read the rest of this entry »
Court Forces Navy to Meet With NRDC to Limit LFAS Deployment, Again – In August, the Navy received a 5-year permit to operate its Low-Frequency Active Sonar system on two ships, nearly anywhere in the world, after several years during which its deployment was limited to a remote area of the West Pacific. This week, the same Federal Judge who ordered the earlier reduction in deployment issued a temporary restraining order calling on the Navy to keep its LFAS signals out of several sensitive marine areas worldwide, and to once again sit down with the NRDC and its allies to hammer out a mutually agreeable set of restrictions for the coming five years. Read the rest of this entry »