Case Study:Research dangerous to whales

mwilliamson@vmsvax.simmons.edu
Mon, 1 Nov 1994 13:30:37

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Subj:	Send your objections to research dangerous to whales!
 
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From: erich@teal.csn.org (Eric Hilfer)
Subject: Send your objections to research dangerous to whales!
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Date: Fri, 25 Mar 1994 20:55:45 GMT
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On Thursday, March 24 the Boulder Daily Camera ran a story titled
"Plan to Measure Temperature Endangers Marine Mammals" in section
C.
 
A team at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego plans to take
accurate readings of ocean temperatures to measure global warming.  They
plan to:
 
	"...place loudspeakers on the ocean floor off Big Sur, CA, and blast
	sounds so loud that they could be heard in New Zealand..."
 
Many scientists are concerned that the noise could deafen whales and
other marine animals.  The sounds
 
	"would be broadcast every four hours
	for 20 minutes until the year 2004 at a volume much loder
	than sounds known to frighten whales from their normal
	migratory route. "
 
	"The low rumbling sound would be broadcast at 195 decibels -
	some 10 million times as load as the 120-decibel level known
	to disturb some whales,"
 
	"By comparison, humans can suffer ear damage from 120-decibel
	noises transmitted through the air"
		- Lindy Weilgart, a Nova Scotia scientist who studies
		sperm whale vocalizations.
	
	A deafened whale would be unable to navigate or find food.
 
I am appalled that the Scripps Institution would consider such an
invasive plan to conduct a measurement.  "Sponsors of the project ...
downplay any serious harm and say the experiment would yield valuable
information about ocean temperatures."
 
Since it is admitted that the impact of this disturbance on whales and
other marine life is not known, I would expect the researchers to err
on the side of caution, but they seem bent on conducting their
research regardless of the potential damage they would inflict.
 
 
******************************************************************
The director of the project at Scripps is Dr. Walter Munk at UCSD.
 
Dr. Munk's E-mail address is wmunk@ucsd.edu
and his fax number is (619) 534-5306
He can be reached at Scripps at (619) 534-2830
 
Please share your comments and concerns with Dr. Munk!
******************************************************************
 
The researchers are seeking an exemption from regulations that protect
marine mammals from human harassment, hunting, and killing.  The
hearing on the project will begin on Tuesday March 29, at the
National Marine Fisheries Service in Silver Springs, MD.
 
******************************************************************
The fax number for public comment for the hearing is:
(301) 713-0376
Please add your voice to this hearing by Tuesday!
******************************************************************
 
Thanks,
 
Eric Hilfer
erich@csn.org