Save the Whales from Persistent Sonar


Target: John Mosher, Northwest environmental manager for the U.S. Pacific Fleet

Goal: Minimize the usage of whale-harming sonar-emitting buoys.

The U.S. Navy wants to expand its use of disruptive sonar-emitting buoys off the Pacific Coast for training purposes. Whales and other marine life are constantly harassed and disoriented by the use of sonar. Call on the Navy’s environmental manager to minimize the amount of additional buoys and the duration and level of sonar emissions.

The Navy wants to deploy 720 sonar-emitting buoys (sonobuoys) 12 nautical miles off the coasts of Washington, Oregon, and Northern California so air crews can train to detect submarines. The training also includes 30 bombing exercises a year and an increase in air-to-surface missile exercises. The Navy’s permit for these exercises from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration under the Marine Mammal Protection Act expires in 2015. The Navy has proposed these sonar additions in a supplement to their permit renewal.

The Navy has suggested that the endangered species-listed leatherback turtle is likely to be adversely affected. They also estimate that marine mammals may be exposed to sonar emissions up to 107,062 times per year. The Pacific training region is populated by humpback whales, blue whales, fin whales, sperm whales, orcas, seals, sea lions, and dolphins. Many marine mammals depend on the deep sound channel where sound waves can travel thousands of miles before dissipating. The intrusion of persistent sonar blasts in this region would plague the only home that these animals have.

In recognition of the need for a well-trained Navy, sign below to demand that the environmental manager for the U.S. Pacific Fleet reassess the impact of sonobuoys and develops a less impactive training method.


Dear Mr. Mosher,

I have recently learned of the Navy’s plans on updating the sonobuoy system off the Pacific Coast. I commend your desire to be as open with the public about this as possible and I understand that sonar devices are both currently in use and are a critical defense tool. However, the deep sound channel must by now be horribly polluted by myriad sound waves from the accumulation of singularly ‘harmless’ sonar devices. The marine mammals who depend on echolocation and live entirely within this noise deserve a customized sonar-based training program.

There is an argument to be made that deploying sonobuoys and harming marine life is a trade off for protecting our nation. I fear that this logic leads to a totally fortified homeland encircling a defunct nature. Although whales are migratory, are we not protecting these transient residents of our nation by limiting our use of sonar?

I urge you to reassess the impact an increase in 550 sonar devices would have on marine life. There must be a less harmful way to administer the same defense-based training.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Kurzon via Public Domain

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