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Michael Jasny’s Blog

Death and Denial

Michael Jasny

Posted May 6, 2013

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On June 9, 2008, at least 60 dolphins stranded along the coast of Cornwall, England, in what was by far the largest common dolphin mortality ever seen in UK waters.  For hours, rescuers tried to lead them back to sea – often unsuccessfully, as some of the animals were panicked and others just milled about in tight circles, resistant to saving.  The forensic investigation that followed ultimately involved 24 experts from 5 countries and multiple government agencies.  Their verdict has just come in: the most probable cause was naval exercises.

For several days before the strandings, the Royal Navy ran a large, multinational event, which included the U.S. Navy and involved active sonar and other disruptive activities, off the Cornish coast.  That event, the investigators concluded, was closely correlated in space and time with the dolphins entering Falmouth Bay and eventually coming ashore.  All other possible causes – disease, algal blooms, malnourishment – were eliminated.

The implication of naval exercises in a mass stranding will come as no surprise to those who have followed this issue in the States.  Nor will the Royal Navy’s perfunctory denial, which, as reported in the Daily Mail, seems awfully similar to what we have heard over the years from the U.S. Navy.  

In the case of mass strandings, what navy officials always seem to demand after the fact is some definitive, minute-by-minute record of the victims’ movements before beaching, as though it were possible to stick a tag on every whale and dolphin in the sea.  Until biologists can provide that infeasible level of proof, the navy refuses responsibility.  But really the Cornwall case is simple: a gun was fired, there were bodies, and no one else was in the room.  

It’s long past time for both navies to stop denying the obvious and do something meaningful to reduce harm, like putting especially vulnerable habitat off limits to dangerous training.  In this country – where our Navy has requested permission to harm marine mammals 30 million times over the next five years without improving its mitigation plan – perhaps even more than in Cornwall, that may be something we have to fight for.

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Ruth RempleMay 6 2013 11:13 AM

Please do what is right and stop the killing.

Lora ZeisMay 6 2013 11:37 AM

Just stop the under water testing. Let dolphins live.

Nisa RauschenbergMay 6 2013 11:42 AM

We need to work so that never happens again

GABRIELAMay 6 2013 12:30 PM


Kirsten MassebeauMay 6 2013 12:30 PM

No there has been yet another exercise off Scotland. Pilot whales stranded, and orca off Iceland. Shame on the Navy's of the world for what they are doing to whales and dolphins!!

Irene HuskissonMay 6 2013 12:42 PM

we MUST change the energies of this planet to save it, and killing its beautiful creatures, is BAD ENERGY, any purest knows and feels and sees this. Everyone MUST wake up.

David MoritzMay 6 2013 01:14 PM

The navies are on a mission which they consider more important than the life of a few fish. They either do not understand or they do not accept that these are intelligent creatures and have a right to live their lives in pursuit of their happiness and well being as much as any other creature (including man) does.

The answer is to go over their heads and force lawmakers to pass legislation which will force the military leaders to change the way they practice for wars.

Unfortunately, Congress is currently being held hostage by madmen with no estimated time for resolution of the situation there.

If too many of the Senate seats vacated by Democrats are taken by t-baggers in 2014, we will likely have an exceptionally difficult time getting any sensible legislation considered until after 2016, if then.

Plain and simple, we must stop them at the polls and continue until sanity is restored in Congress and the "businesses are people" law is overturned to remove the Big Money from ruining our government. Sad, but true - little of any import will be done until Congress is purged of the moneylenders.

Lisa MarcusMay 6 2013 03:35 PM

And what Mr. Jasny, do you suggest we do about this??

Thanks for the article.

benedictMay 6 2013 05:36 PM

you pay your taxes. this is what you pay for!!! why the f**k are you paying your taxes!!!!!!

Sharon WallaceMay 6 2013 07:04 PM

We need to put pressure on the politicians the only thing that they care about are money and votes, we need to deny them both to get them to listen to something other than their own greed or selfishness.

Lyndia StoreyMay 6 2013 07:47 PM

NRDC, we are behind you.... another lawsuit? In the meantime, let's continue bringing this issue forward in the media and to friends and family. It's time for a change and we are the ones who can make that change.... we are not powerless. Situations change when people are aware and take action. if we know or can find information on this sonar issue, it's our job to share. More information on our website whale and dolphin

Sandra LuccisanoMay 6 2013 10:23 PM

I'm sick of fighting for animal/marine/earth rights. But to stop would be worse.

Brenda PetersonMay 8 2013 10:37 AM

History will judge this lethal technology harshly and it will be up to us, not governments or militaries, to limit and stop it for the future of our oceans.

Lorraine HeronMay 8 2013 03:50 PM

it is absolute madness we are one planet in millions of planets in this universe harbouring life , and the navy chooses to,kill what we have on ours, this planet is a rare and beautiful place that has a diversity of unique life we must stop them from killing our whales dolphins porpoises and all life in the seas before it`s too late for all of us

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