Subject: Info:Navy and right whales (fwd)

Michael Williamson (
Sat, 8 Feb 1997 16:50:01 -0500 (EST)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sat, 8 Feb 1997 06:45:48 -0800
From: MARMAM Editors <marmamed@UVic.CA>
Reply-To: Marine Mammals Research and Conservation Discussion
To: Multiple recipients of list MARMAM <MARMAM@UVVM.BITNET>
Subject: Re: Navy and right whales (fwd)

From: (R.H. Lambertsen)

Dear Dagmar:

As one who took issue publically with the recent past plans for U.S
Navy/NATO war games on the SE calving grounds of the North Atlantic Right
whale, it seems only fair that I  respond to your request for comment on
the "Navy and right whales" newsclip.

As background, the North Atlantic right whale is, without doubt, one of the
most critically endangered of all mammals.  Its extinction would represent
a national tragedy of very large proportions for the United States -- a
country that shares with few others full responsibility for the decimation
of this species in historical times.

Published research has clarified to some extent the occurrence of right
whales in various shipping lanes and their associated high risk of
mortality from ship collision.  It is a matter of fact that "right" whales
(which have very thick blubber) are comparatively slow swimmers, float and
may spend long periods of time in sleep or semi-conciousness, essentially
immobile at the sea surface.

Alteration of the recent past plans for U.S.Navy/NATO war games off the SE
U.S. coast are a matter of record and involved the relocation of high speed
maneuvers further offshore. In my opinion, both this and the proactive
project now brought to light in the "Navy and right whales"  article
represent  __excellent__ responses to international concern about the
survival of the North Atlantic right whale.

In fact, the use of infrared sensors to locate right whales so that ship
traffic can __in an instant__ be redirected to minimize risk of collision
with these animals offers __significant__ new hope that this critically
endangered species will be saved.

It is __not__ clear, however, whether the rapid communication of
information on infrared sightings will be restricted to U.S. military
traffic, which is limited, or if other ship traffic (e.g., commercial,
NATO) also will be alerted.

Nonetheless, it __is__ very clear that those individuals in the the Navy,
the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Admininistration, the Georgia
Department of Natural Resources and the Florida Department of Environmental
Protection who are responsible should be strongly commended for their
innovative and timely efforts to solve a conservation crisis of
international proportions.  No doubt such activity also offers public
relations and possibly training/readiness benefits for the Navy -- but
those are entirely secondary issues.  Whoever the responsible individuals
are, they should be encouraged to develop this new protective capability
for the North Atlantic right whale to __fully effective__ levels. Their
project should be allocated any supplementary funds or special assets that
may be needed for it to succeed.  Protection of the North Atlantic right
whale from ship collision is an extremely important conservation objective.

Yours sincerely,

R.H. Lambertsen, Ph.D., V.M.D.
Ecosystems Technology Transfer, Inc.
P.O. Box 6788, Titusville, FL 32782 USA

Member, Species Survial Commision
International Union for the Conservation of Nature

and former Fellow,
Committee on the Challenges of Modern Society,
North Atlantic Treaty Organization

Information copies to:  Mr. Albert Gore
                        Vice President of the United States

                        Mr. Janvier Solana, Secretary General
                        North Atlantic Treaty Organization

Dagmar Fertl wrote:

>     from Greenwire.  I'd be curious to hear from folks about their opinion
>     of this:
>     The Navy, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Admin., the Georgia
>     Dept. of Natural Resources and the Florida Dept. of Env'tal Protection
>     are tracking and guarding right whales, an endangered species that
>     researchers say numbers only about 350.
>     Kurt Fristrud, a Cornell U. biologist and acoustic engineer, "believes
>     that the right whales are trapped by their habits and unable to
>     migrate away from ... shipping lanes."  Fristrud:  "I think there are
>     hot spots -- little windows where for some reason whales and ships
>     come together.  If we can find those points, we can direct ships away
>     and save the whales."  The "only known calving grounds" are in
>     shipping lanes off of GA and FL.
>     Rear Admiral Kevin Delaney, the environmental officer for the South
>     Atlantic fleet, says the Navy is using infrared trackers to spot the
>     whales.  Researchers also are able to send instant messages of whale
>     locations to ships so that collisions can be avoided (AP/BOSTON GLOBE
>     online, 1/27).