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Navy (mostly) prevails in LFA lawsuit

June 9, 2014

Eighteen months after a lawsuit challenged the latest 5-year authorization for the US Navy’s SURTASS-LFA low-frequency active sonar system, Federal Judge Elizabeth Laporte ruled in the Navy’s favor on nearly all counts.  And last week, the Navy agreed to do a Supplemental Environmental Impact statement that will address the key point on which she found […]

NATO sonar exercises, strandings in Crete

April 8, 2014

While recent years have seen an apparent reduction in the number of sonar-related strandings, one of the world’s hot spots for such tragedies saw a rash of strandings in recent days.  Two different stranding events occurred along the southern shore of Crete, the first involving 5-7 Cuvier’s beaked whales along a 16km stretch of coast, and […]

Legal challenges mount to new round of Navy training permits

January 31, 2014

In December, the Navy’s current five-year plan for training and testing activities around Hawaii and off the southern California coast were approved by NOAA regulators, covering the years 2014-2018.  The approval authorized incidental takes of marine mammals, including both widespread behavioral changes and close-range injuries and some deaths, as a result of sound exposure from sonar […]

First ruling in new sonar challenges fails to limit huge take numbers

October 9, 2013

The first ruling is in from the latest round of legal challenges to Naval training permits, and it’s a split decision.  You’ll need to click through to read the full post to get all the details, but here’s a preview of the conclusion you’ll find at the end: It appears that the places that the […]

Blue, beaked whales stop foraging when exposed to sonar?

July 13, 2013

AEI lay summary of:Goldbogen JA, Southall BL, DeRuiter SL, Calambokidis J, Friedlaender AS, Hazen EL, Falcone EA, Schorr GS, Douglas A, Moretti DJ, Kyburg C, McKenna MF, Tyack PL. 2013 Blue whales respond to simulated mid-frequency military sonar. Proc R Soc B 280: 20130657. (download here)andDeRuiter SL, Southall BL, Calambokidis J, Zimmer WMX, Sadykova […]

2008 UK stranding linked to Navy exercises

May 6, 2013

On June 9, 2008, 26 common dolphins, 21 of them infants, stranded and died in river estuaries around Falmouth Bay, as several days of Naval exercises involving over 30 ships wound down (see AIEnews coverage at the time).  A four-year study (read it online) has  concluded that unspecified Naval activities are “the most probable (but […]

California regulators reject Navy training plans despite federal approvals

March 12, 2013

The California Coastal Commission has rejected the Navy’s 5-year plan for training and testing activities that recently received provisional approvals from the National Marine Fisheries Service.  In a unanimous vote, CCC members said the Navy’s environmental studies failed to back up its claim that impacts on marine life would be negligible during the years 2014-2019. […]

New NMFS Navy “take” permits: outrageous or reasonable?

February 11, 2013

The release of Proposed Rules to govern US Navy training and testing operations in the waters of the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, Southern California, and Hawaii from 2014-2019 has put the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) in the crosshairs of an outraged response from environmental groups.  NRDC, the Center for Biological Diversity, and others point […]

Navy receives NMFS OK for LFAS operations 2012-2017

September 10, 2012

In August, the National Marine Fisheries Service issued its Record of Decision that will allow the Navy to operate its Low Frequency Active Sonar systems for the next five years.  NMFS will issue a new Letter of Authorization each year, in order to accommodate new information as needed, but the overall parameters of the permits will […]

Canadian sonar heard in US critical orca habitat

February 9, 2012

A Canadian frigate used its mid-frequency active sonar this week during a training exercise in Haro Strait, north of San Juan Island and south of Vancouver Island.  The sonar emissions from the HMCS Ottowa (right) were picked up by whale researchers at Beam Institute, who raised concerns about sonar use in an area designated by […]

Ocean listening stations go online; US Navy aims to filter out its activities

January 22, 2012

A growing network of ocean observatories are adding hydrophones to their arrays of instruments, opening ears into the undersea world.  The data has been shared widely among scientists for the past few years, and a website, Listening to the Deep Ocean Environment, is now compiling the real-time acoustic streams from 15 of the observatories, allowing […]

More detailed confirmation that beaked whales move away from sonar exercises

July 27, 2011

This post is an AEI lay summary of the following paper: McCarthy, Moretti, Thomas, DiMarzio, Morrisey, Jarvis, Ward, Izzi, Dilley.  Changes in spatial and temporal distribution and vocal behavior of Blainville’s beaked whales (Mesoplodon densirostris) during multiship exercises with mid-frequency sonar.  Marine Mammal Science, Volume 27, Issue 3, July 2011. For the past several years, ongoing […]

Key step toward identifying key beaked whale habitat, avoiding sonar exposure?

April 28, 2011

A study just published is a tentative first step toward knowing where beaked whales may be foraging, and so perhaps avoiding exposing them to mid-frequency active sonar without having to see or hear them first. The study, briefly described in this press release, found that beaked whales were more numerous in an area of their […]

Beaked whales avoid sonar at low sound levels

March 16, 2011

The latest in a series of studies looking at responses of beaked whales to Naval mid-frequency active sonar has provided some new details that reinforce our understanding that this family of deep-diving whales is extremely sensitive to noise intrusions.  The study, which took place on a US Navy training range in the Bahamas which is […]

Navy enviro mag features beaked whale research, with a slant

May 22, 2010

The Spring 2010 issue of Currents, the quarterly magazine published by N45, the Navy’s environmental readiness division, features a long article on recent research by Ted Cranford of San Diego State University, which is revealing new details about the anatomy of beaked whales.  Cranford has developed an innovative technique to use x-ray CAT scanners designed […]

NRDC, allies take Navy to court over training range near right whale habitat

January 29, 2010

The new Navy Undersea Warfare Training Range (USWTR), being planned for off the coast of northern Florida, has hit a roadblock that’s been fairly visible since the location was announced last July: environmental groups are challenging the permitting process that allows construction to commence before the Navy completes its environmental assessment of future operations there. […]

NOAA steps up, announces new active sonar oversight with possible off-limits areas

January 22, 2010

NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco has announced a series of sweeping new initiatives designed to push the Navy forward in its efforts to understand and mitigate the impacts of mid-frequency active sonar on marine mammals.  In response to a request from the Council for Environmental Quality (CEQ), which asked NOAA to conduct a comprehensive review of […]

Navy Outlines Recent, Ongoing Behavioral Response Studies

August 12, 2009

A detailed article-cum-press release from Navy News provides the most information currently available on three studies that will be central to addressing ongoing questions about the Navy’s assessment of the behavioral responses of whales and dolphins to Navy mid-frequency active sonar. Two of the studies took place on US Navy instrumented ranges during normal Naval […]

2004 Hanalei Bay Incident Not Related to Lunar Cycle; Sonar Link Remains

August 8, 2009

During the 2004 RIMPAC multinational navy exercises in Hawaii, a pod of over 150 melon-headed whales appeared in a shallow bay, far from their normal offshore habitat.  Their agitation was obvious, and one young whale beached and died.  When it became apparent that sonar training was taking place offshore that day, the Navy initially said […]

AEI Summary of Navy EIS for Undersea Warfare Training Range

July 24, 2009

In October, 2005, the Navy released the first of their sonar-inclusive EIS’s, a Draft Environmental Impact Statement covering plans for a 500 square mile Undersea Warfare Training Range (USWTR), primarily for up to 480 anti-submarine mid-frequency active sonar exercises per year, including 100 ship-based events (2/week on average, lasting 3-4 hours each). This may serve to […]

Navy Says Right Whales Not at Risk Near New Training Range

July 22, 2009

The US Navy has released a Final EIS for its long-planned Undersea Warfare Training Range (USWTR), and has settled on an area off Jacksonville as its preferred location.  This was one of three areas under consideration, and marks a shift from earlier plans to locate the range off North Carolina, which met widespread resistance from […]

Minke Whales Flee Sonar in UK

May 26, 2009

Two UK environmental and research organizations that were monitoring whale activity during a recent NATO naval exercise report that minke whales were seen fleeing along the surface while their hydrophones were picking up loud mid-frequency active sonar signals.  Observers from the Hebrides Whale and Dolphin Trust saw “two minke whales within an hour displaying unusual […]

Diverse Scientific Body Calls for Sonar Training Limits to Specified Areas

April 24, 2009

A new report issued in the wake of an active sonar mitigation workshop held by the European Cetacean Society calls unequivocally for sonar training to be limited to relatively small dedicated areas.  By contrast, the US Navy continues to insist that it needs access to nearly the entire eastern seaboard and most of the west coast […]

Bill Would Match Navy Marine Mammal Research Funds With $25M for the MMC

April 23, 2009

Representative Neil Abercrombie (D-HI) marked Earth Day by announcing the introduction of a bill that would provide $25 million per year to the Marine Mammal Commission to fund new research into the effects of human activities on whales and dolphins, with a particular focus on the effects of active sonar. “We need to end the fighting […]

Night Sonar Test in Northwest; Transient Orcas in Area

April 21, 2009

Earlier this month, the US Navy spent a night testing sonar and communications systems on the USS San Francisco, a submarine that had recently completed major repairs to its sonar dome after crashing into a seamount in 2006.   The sub was doing “required training dives” in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, between Vancouver Island […]