Subject: Re: ATOC

Tom Ford (
Tue, 10 Dec 96 00:02:16 -0500

Dear Vernoy,

    The sounds generated by ATOC , at a close range, could be harmful to 
marine mammals. The key to all of this is how close the animals are to 
the sound source. The pressure of the sound or percieved intensity drops 
dramatically with distance. It is my understanding that the sounds are 
started at low intensity and slowly raised to full power. This allows for 
no sudden sonic "surprises" for marine mammals near the sATOC source. An 
unannounced blast close to an animal would certainly be harmful and 

    We have filled the ocean with unnatural sounds. Commercial shipping, 
oil exploraton sound sources , sonar, and drilling platforms have all 
added to the unnatural level of sound at sea. These sounds can have 
negative effects on  nearby animals depending on where in the ocean these 
sounds occur. In shallow waters most sounds are intensified. If the noise 
disrupts migration routes or the ability of whales to detect food sources 
then, yes the effect is negative.There are of course different levels of 
negativity. Whales can adapt to changing conditions but it is up to 
responsible investigators to determine how to operate programs like ATOC 
and acheive minimal long term effects on whales et. al..

    Dr. Dan Costa has an ongoing study on the effects of ATOC. His email 
address is COSTA@BIOLOGY.UCSC.EDU.  Dr. Hal Whitehead has been eloquent 
in his critiques of the program. His email address is HWHITEHE@AC.DAL.CA 
. Nobody has,as yet, any final answers on ATOC and the impacts it may 
have on whales. I do beleive that competent and exhaustive studies are 
being made to protect whales from harm.

                                               Dr. Tom Ford