It seems that the US Navy broke several laws by using a low-frequency sonar to detect any trace of enemy submarines. The whale-killing sonar used by the US Marine also affects walruses and dolphins because it scrambles the frequency they use to communicate with each other and detect prey.
An environmental group exposed the whale-killing sonar and addressed the proper authorities. Now, a court ruled that the device (even if it was approved in 2012) broke several marine laws, harming and endangering local wildlife.
The case is awaiting further consideration from a lower court.
Back in 2012, the National Service of Marine Fisheries allowed the use of low-frequency sonar by the US Navy, with one condition. The act stipulates that the sonar is to be shut down if a marine mammal is detected. Moreover, loud sonar pulses are banned from a number of protected waters and in the vicinity of coastlines.
The Defense Council of Natural Resources together with several environmental groups decided to file a lawsuit in response, alleging that the approval was in violation of the Protection Act of Marine Mammals.
According to the federal appeals court in San Francisco, the approval did not meet one of the main stipulations in the act, more precisely, “the least practicable adverse impact on marine mammals” condition was not respected.
The court decided that the US Navy tried to follow the basic guidelines presented in the Act. The blame is shared by both the military institution and the fisheries service that didn’t offer enough protection to the locations in the world’s oceans that were flagged by experts as being important.
An average sonar system generates around 235 decibels. By comparison, a rock band can go as far as 130 decibels. The sound waves produced by military sonars can reach hundreds of miles, retaining an intensity of roughly 140 decibels while going as far as 300 miles from the originating device.
Direct correlations are tricky to find, but the majority of researchers stated that sonar use affects the behavior and eating patterns of whales, dolphins, and walruses. It can also be the main reason why so many whales ended up beached in the past years.
What is your opinion on the whale-killing sonar used by the US Marine? Do you think that the US Navy should find new ways of detecting enemy submarines? Let us know in the comment section below.
Image source: Wikipedia
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