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Zak Smith’s Blog

We Need President Obama to Save Whales from Navy Exercises

Zak Smith

Posted July 25, 2014

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Humpback whale and its calf (Photo by NOAA)

This week, the Natural Resources Defense Council launched a petition drive asking President Obama to protect whales from deadly sonar and explosives.

It’s action the world’s marine mammals desperately need. At home, the Navy is engaged in exercises that will inflict more than 31 million instances of harm on whales and dolphins over the next five years, including millions of instances of temporary hearing loss and more than 13,000 instances of permanent hearing loss or injury to internal organs. The Navy’s modeling also showed that its activities could kill nearly 1,000 whales and dolphins. And abroad, as my colleague Michael Jasny has written, the Navy’s activities continue to be implicated in whale strandings, the most recent occurring a few months ago on the shores of Crete.

We shouldn’t have to accept these losses and we wouldn’t have to if the National Marine Fisheries Service—the agency charged with protecting marine mammals—did its job. At the beginning of the Obama administration, the White House asked for an accounting from the Fisheries Service over a midnight regulation authorizing the Navy to harm whales along our coasts. That agency agreed that more needed to be done, made promises to fix its failings, and noted that the best way to protect whales and dolphins was to keep Navy sonar out of important marine mammal habitat. Unfortunately, the Fisheries Service broke its promise to do better and is standing by new regulations even worse than the ones it pushed through at the close of the Bush Administration.

It didn’t have to be this way. Concerned citizens did everything they could to hold the Fisheries Service to its promise (submitted comments, attended hearings, wrote letters, signed petitions, engaged with Congress, supported development of new tools), urging the Fisheries Service to do its job and aggressively protect marine mammals from sonar and explosives. Instead, the agency authorized an unprecedented level of harm to whales and dolphins—harms that would have been significantly reduced if the regulatory agency had kept its promise to the White House.

Our Navy’s been harming whales and dolphins for long enough. And the agency charged with protecting these animals has been letting the Navy get away with it, despite having the authority and obligation to require better protections. NRDC has been working for years to save marine mammals from Navy sonar, as detailed in the new book War of the Whales: A True Story. Our battle continues now in federal court, but we don’t have to wait for Court action; the President can order these agencies to act.

I don’t know when or why these agencies lost their way. But I do know that more can be done to save whales and dolphins from Navy sonar and explosives and that the President has the power to get these agencies back on track. I hope he uses it. The lives of whales and dolphins depend on it.

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salvatore centoJul 25 2014 04:58 PM

stop them now

les mccoyJul 25 2014 05:06 PM

the only thing he cares about is him self it's his idea to do it wish he can se the harm he's doing but karma will get him in return beleave that in the mean time leave the whale's etc alone.

Vicki BarryJul 25 2014 05:11 PM

Please STOP Killing our whales And Dolphins!! It's so cruel! Have some RESPECT and compassion for God's
Creatures!! Thank you .

Hal MednickJul 25 2014 05:12 PM

This is not something that should be negotiable. There is no gain from it militarily, and only harm to be done.

TINA HILLERJul 25 2014 05:12 PM


M. LeachJul 25 2014 05:28 PM

As someone else said, this is non-negotiable! NOBODY wants this!

Diane GilesJul 25 2014 05:38 PM

You have to stop this now this is no different than murder premeditated murder.

Karen WalshJul 25 2014 05:41 PM

When we inflict this incredible cruelty on the creatures with whom we share the biosphere, we diminish ourselves as well. Please stop this insanity.

brandon oakleyJul 25 2014 06:37 PM

Stop these tests before the whales are whiped out. They were here long before we were. They are sentient and intelligent beings who deserve to live! Leave them alone!

J Victoria GibsonJul 25 2014 06:42 PM

Solar Energy!!!!!! Please sir!

Sara Vazzana Jul 25 2014 07:51 PM

Enough!!!! Play with your deadly toys in your bathtub and aim for yourself not these innocent, intelligent, beautiful animals.

Jeannine BakrigesJul 25 2014 08:16 PM

STOP these tests. STOP the cruelty.

Vidya TikkuJul 25 2014 09:42 PM


Kristine HortonJul 25 2014 10:08 PM

The whales do not deserve to pay the price for the Navy's tests. They have already paid with their lives because of prior tests!

Colleen ZiroliJul 25 2014 10:38 PM

America must become a leader in the protection not the destruction of the earth, including her myriads of living jewels.

Kristen NowickiJul 26 2014 03:25 AM

This is not necessary!

L A KloostermanJul 26 2014 05:50 AM

Please stop these harmfull practices, thank you.

DEVIN FARMERJul 26 2014 06:17 AM

Please stop the testing & respect these ancient whale'sthat were here living in peace long before you were even thought of !!!!!!!!!!!!!

Teresa MiltonJul 26 2014 08:57 AM

How many years to they need to do this???? STOP this thoughtless process of killing our marine mammals.

Han PhanJul 26 2014 10:38 AM

Protect our whales & dolphins

Natalie McIlwainJul 26 2014 11:31 AM

We are here to protect the creatures of this earth, not harm them.

Sara CaseyJul 26 2014 01:45 PM

Stop these tests! Stop them NOW!

Karla MelissaJul 27 2014 06:03 PM

Please donĀ“t do that, you are a very important person, you can change the world, please do the right thing.

Patty EJul 27 2014 11:55 PM

THIS is TORTURE!!! What did these Whales and Dolphins do to deserve to be tortured? Permanently deaf? For what? we already know these animals have sensitive hearing skills---why torture them more? WHEN did dolphins and whales declare was on humans? STOP THE MILTARY FORM CREATING SOMETHING HORRENDOUS TO JUSTIFY GETTING PAID---STOP the TORTURE---we are not at war with dolphins and whales!!!!!

Apt martzkeJul 28 2014 07:43 PM

Please stop these tests and respect wildlife!

LauraJul 30 2014 12:24 AM

Stop this reckless and unnessasary testing, I bombing what ever, with no regard to the consequences, it is just Horrible!!

Honora jacksonAug 3 2014 12:31 PM

Please save the whales.

Amber LoudonAug 3 2014 12:39 PM

These animals are treasures and should be treated as such. Dismantle the destructive weapons of terror and build an animal sanctuary instead!

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