US Navy's sonar use violates Marine Mammal Protection Act

Originally published at:


I’m glad to see this natural-world-terrorizing technology legally constrained.


Peak source levels(re: 1/zPa,1m) were back calculated from measured received levels over the effective bandwidths
and durations of the recorded sounds,based on 20 logR (yds) spreading loss and negligible attenuation.For cases in which the responsible whale could be identified with certainty,source levels were:192dB,the most powerful fluke slap; 183-192 dB, flipper slaps;162-171 dB, low-frequencypulse trains from a visible feeding whale; 179-181 dB, blowhole shrieks;and 181-185 dB, trumpet like horn blasts.
Assuming that the closest observed whale was the source among other whales in small groups,source levels were: 190 dB, grunt; 175 dB, moan; and 176 dB (median), low-frequencypulsing.Thus,for 53 measured humpback whale sounds in SoutheastAlaska, source levels were 162- 192dB re:1/•Pa, 1m (summary including No. observations, TableII).[/quote]

Sounds source levels, and associated behavior of humpback whales, Southeast Alaska

a mere rock concert? just 115 dB

Is there a case here? Probably, But it’s not made by asserting that whale and other marine creatures are injured if exposed to 90 dB noise for more than 8 hours. per day. They aren’t as fragile as humans, and this isn’t air.

Here’s the opinion, btw

National Resources Defense Council v Pritzker,


Every Whale I meet hasn’t a good thing to say about the Navy. Indeed.


The dolphins are a bit ambivalent too.


The reason the Navy wants to do this is that they are afraid of the fairly recently developed air independent propulsion diesel-electric submarines. Quieter than nuclear submarines and able to stay underwater for weeks at a time, in wargames these have proven almost impossible to detect.


I feel like I read this very same story, ten years ago or more. Any tree-huggers have any idea if this is deja-vu?

There is painful grammar, misspelled words and awkward phrasing in this post’s introductory paragraph. Sorry to point it out, but this was glaringly painful. I am not sure if it was intended to be that way or is an oversight.

Clearly, some in congress are objectively pro-whale.

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Soon, the only waves in the ocean will be the natural ones made of water, not man-made ones that come from sound.

Nonsense. Our sea-going transport makes plenty of low-frequency long-range noise - mostly from propeller cavitation - that interferes substantially with the whales’ use of resonant-ducted low frequencies for long-distance communication.

The frequencies are too low for humans to hear, but our instruments can ‘hear’ them across thousands of miles of ocean - but only because we can pick them out from all the diesel-engine noise and prop wash with sophisticated electronic filters.

The whales aren’t so lucky.


This sounds pretty impressive, until you think about every other time the military has run afoul of some pesky federal law. All they ever have to do, is say the magic words, “national security”, and the court just rolls over. It’s hard to imagine what it would look like for the court not to back down. Civil War comes to mind…

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Where is Aquaman when we need him?


Except for the sonars of the Russian, Chinese, Indian etc etc navies, who presumably will keep doing whatever they think will find enemy vessels most effectively…

we can’t seem to get a consensus on not bombing civilians in certain countries, but I’m optimistic the whales will have more ‘social leverage’.

The case still has to go to trial, so perhaps the Navy will have a chance to argue on the grounds of National Security. This appeal concerned the government’s request for summary judgement. (“Assume that all the evidence goes against me. As matter of law, does the plaintiff even have a case?”)

I found this bit intriguing.

NMFS determined that the incidental take of a specified number of marine mammals by use of LFA sonar would have a negligible impact on the marine mammal species, and Plaintiffs do not appeal that determination. Plaintiffs appeal only the district court’s conclusion that NMFS’s mitigation measures satisfied the MMPA’s least practicable adverse impact standard.

The case here isn’t about hearing loss in whales.

If you think someone else is being obtuse, maybe you could look more closely at the arguments? You might have leapt to a conclusion yourself.

Masking and behavioral impacts strike me as more relevant. Do you know all about those?

The lede states

The Navy have been blasting the sea with louder than rock concert sounds, hunting for Red October.

And in my opinion, this is a misleading and irrelevant sentence.

You want to to talk decibels?

OK. SPL at source: 215 dB. SPL outside two mile exclusion zone: 175 dB.

Those are the important numbers, not some vague category of “louder than rock concert sounds”

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