Subject: Sound:Sonar vs. whale strandings, cont'd (fwd)

Mike Williamson (
Fri, 13 Mar 1998 11:54:15 -0500 (EST)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 12 Mar 1998 13:07:55 -0500
From: william rossiter <>
Reply-To: Marine Mammals Research and Conservation Discussion
Subject: Sonar vs. whale strandings, cont'd

Dear MARMAMers,

 "A. Frantzis" <> brought to MARMAM's and
Bioacoustics-L  attention a note he published  (5 March 1998) in Nature
(Scientific Correspondence) concerning the 13 May 1996 stranding of 12
Cuvier's beaked whales stranded alive along the coasts of Kyparissiakos
Gulf, and it's potential relationship to LFA sonar trials..

I have been trying to track down details of the reported 3 kHz sonar system
that may be the culprit, here and elsewhere. In discussions with US Navy
representatives and scientists associated with the LFA Low Frequency
Scientific Research program currently undergoing Phase III trials in Hawaii
I have been told that the sonar system related to the reported stranding
may be a 3kHz system operated by NATO. Further, that although the US Navy
had an interest in disassociating its LFA system from these events, it was
proving difficult to get all NATO parties involved to sign off on a partial
declassification of the NATO system to allow public scrutiny. If the NATO
system is the problem the political pressures supporting classifying the
system will be hard to counter.

This is not about politics. If marine organisms are being severely impacted
by military hardware pressures are justified that work to at least
constrain test and practice operations to areas and times that will
minimize negative impacts. This requires scientific expertise to clarify
the species, areas, and times in question, and a diplomatic effort to
effect military and research operations. This is a partial goal of our
organization in relation to the Low Frequency Active Sonar system, which,
if I can believe qualified sources, does not have a 3 kHz output and is not
likely to have been the cause of that stranding. On the other hand, during
the current trials in Hawaii there is some ancedotal evidence that
humpbacks may have been impacted. This is being denied, but the sources are
being checked out. One major problem is that the ultimate proof, a stranded
whale with physical damage to its ears as determined by a qualified
necropsy, is unlikely due to the tiger sharks known to prey locally on
debilitated cetaceans. 6-10 humpback calves are thought to die of "natural
causes" locally during the humpback's breeding and calving season. One
stranded recently, a rarity, and preliminary analysis suggests no evidence
of damage from high noise levels.

This is a plea for active your scientific involvement, bringing your
expertise to bear to effect policy so as to minimize impacts on marine
life. The military does not know what you know. Who's at fault? Who

William W. Rossiter
President, Cetacean Society International
P.O.Box 953, Georgetown, CT 06829 USA
ph/fx 203-544-8617