You may have read about the U.S. Navy’s “Low-Frequency Active” (LFA) sonar program. The military has been testing this new, high-powered system in secret for years. Now, the Navy wants to deploy it across 80 percent of our planet’s oceans. LFA sonar is designed to detect enemy submarines by flooding vast expanses of the oceans with sound. Leaving aside the military wisdom of this sonar — which is still in dispute — the environmental dangers are becoming increasingly clear.
Here’s the problem: LFA noise is billions of times more intense than that known to disturb whale migration and communication. Whales and dolphins depend on their sensitive hearing for survival. To put it simply, a deaf whale is a dead whale. Deafening noise from the LFA system will interfere with the vital biological activities of marine mammals. Scientists fear that long-term exposure to LFA could push entire populations over the brink into extinction.
Inevitably, there will also be marine mammals unlucky enough to swim too close to LFA loudspeakers. Imagine an acoustic wave so powerful that, even at substantial distances, it can destroy your hearing, cause your lungs or ears to hemorrhage, or even kill you.
We’ve already seen a glimpse of the resulting carnage. Last year, whales from four different species stranded themselves and died on beaches across the northern Bahamas during a Navy military exercise. All but one of the dead animals examined by researchers had suffered hemorrhaging around the inner ear — the telltale sign of acoustic trauma. The U.S. Navy’s own report concluded that it is “highly likely” that the stranding was caused by the use of mid-frequency active sonar. But despite this tragic event, the Navy now wants to deploy LFA, the most extensive active sonar system ever devised.
We know that different frequencies will affect different marine mammals and that the lower the frequency, the farther it penetrates the ocean. We believe it is unconscionable to expose marine mammals around the world to more high intensity sonar. If you agree, then please join us in taking immediate action; it will take you only a few seconds.
Just go to http://www.nrdc.org/default.asp The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Ocean Futures Society (OFS) have set up this web page to make it easy for you to send electronic messages of protest to your U.S. senators and representative. Congress is now deciding the Navy’s funding for next year — tell them to “Turn Off LFA Sonar” by cutting off its funding.
And please forward this message to your family, friends and colleagues. NRDC used web activism to help generate a million messages of protest to Mitsubishi and, just last year, stopped the company from destroying the last unspoiled birthing ground of the Pacific gray whale.
Congress cannot ignore millions of us. Together, we can keep whales and dolphins safe from high-powered sonar.
Thank you for your time and your concern.