Subject: Navy and marine mammals

Dagmar Fertl (
Mon, 27 Sep 1999 07:39:44 PDT

Ms. Fertl:

I apologize if I am accessing you incorrectly.  I could not use
the Ask a Scientist button on Whalenet because I am writing from a library 
computer that has no e-mail address.

I first asked Mr. Williamson this question, and he thought you
might be able to help me.  In the book "Sea of Slaughter", Farley Mowat 
alleges that the Navy intentionally used whales for target practice from 
subs and aircraft during WWI and WWII, continuing into the 1960's. I wanted 
to write a research paper on this, but I cannot locate a single reference to 
it aside from the book.  The only source information Mowat provides is the 
name of a Canadian journalist and newspaper where the story supposedly broke 
in 1957.  I don't think I can track down that article, and I do not have the 
time to do a FOIA request with the Navy.

I have altered the topic of my paper to The Navy's Marine Mammal
Research Program.  However, I still would like to obtain information on the 
above-described activities.  Have you heard of them before and do you know 
of any place that I might be able to find more information?

Any help you can offer would be greatly appreciated.  Thank you
for your time.

Jenifur L. Rancourt,

The Navy actually published a great brochure on its Marine Mammal Program in 
1997.  The brochure (and further information) can be obtained via:

Public Affairs Office (619)553-2717

The brochure infomration covers what the research is and has been. I can't 
speak for whales being used as target practice.  I know that a lot of 
information from the Navy and marine mammals has become declassified, though 
I can't imagine IF marine mammals were targets as you suggest, that the 
information would be declassified. To tell you the truth, I don't know.  You 
might also be interested in checking out two other books that deal with the 
Navy and marine mammals. One is a book by Dr. Sam Ridgway - The Dolphin 
Doctor - who is the Navy's marine mammal vet. The other is by Dr. Forest 
Wood (a very old book) entitled the Navy and marine mammals (or something to 
that effect).

You might also consider contacting the Office of Naval Research (ONR) which 
might have some additional information.

Best of luck with your report.

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