Suspected Navy sonar tests affect northwest coast whales; causes damage irreversible

Under the sea is where it’s better, at least according Sebastian from “The Little Mermaid”. But in recent reports, not every animal under the sea is having the time of its life. Three-year-old orca whale, L-112, was found dead, washed up on Long Beach, Wash., on Feb. 11. L-112 will not be the only victim of death caused by the suspected cause of an explosion made by sonar. These explosions may be accidental, but if they continue, the damage is irreversible and some avid animal lovers will not be happy.

It’s still unknown whether explosive ordinance or military sonar is behind the death of L-112. Military activities were deployed in the vicinity of L-112’s time of death, but the warning areas for these activities overlapped the areas where L-112 most likely was at the time of her death.

“Bombs can do likewise at even greater range, but only about 110 of them are dro pped annually, and of these only about ten explode in the whale habitat,” Kenneth Balcomb, principal investigator of the Center for Whale Research, said. “It is kind of like Russian roulette, with the ‘gun’ pointed at the whales’ head.”

It doesn’t matter whether or not you’re a big fan of animals, because L-112’s death was tragic.

The death of L-112 had a serious impact to the ecological line of the orca population. She represented a potential productive mother in the next generation. The SRKW have few potential mothers to take responsibility for the loss of one whale.

“We are all saddened and shaken by L-112’s death,” Balcomb said. “And we all know that military sonar can kill, deafen and terrify marine mammals to the point of causing them to avoid all caution and flee the habitat.”

Whale research is critical as researchers gain knowledge about the current population of Southern Resident Killer Whales (SRKW), a population that represents the smallest of four resident communities within the eastern North Pacific Ocean.

Maintaining animal population is crucial in the zoological and ecological world. Balance is crucial. So is the food web/chain. The orca population has declined in overall numbers due to human action. In the Pacific Northwest, orcas are the top predator in the ecosystem. A decline in orcas result in an increase—an overpopulation—of salmon, plankton, and other marine animals.

So, if ecology is at stake along with the population of these orcas, exactly who is to blame? Articles written by the San Juan Journal and The Epoch Times point fingers to the Royal Canadian Navy. The navy has been exercising loud and disruptive sonar tests, according to neighboring states in Everett, Wash. The navy was conducting pierside testing of mid-frequency active sonar essential in preparing a ship.

Though there may be military advantages to using sonar, whoever is to blame should open their eyes and look underwater. This isn’t as helpful to the ecosystem as it is to the military. They need to stop these tests because the whales are a major part of the marine ecosystem. The humans above water may have the ability and capacity to perform whatever they want: sonar, missiles, fireworks, you name it, but the whales are restricted to below the surface. If ecologists, biologists and animal lovers can’t defend the whales, then who will? Maybe the military should change its point of view and help out these fellow marines.