Navy bombs dolphins

March 26, 2011: Three long-beaked common dolphins (Delphinus capensis) died accidentally as the U.S. Navy was detonating explosives underwater off the San Diego coastline.  "After the explosion, government biologists retrieved the carcasses and took them to a veterinary lab at Sea World to conduct necropsies," wrote the Los Angeles Times.
  Long-beaked common dolphins like coastal waters (the short-beaked common dolphin likes deeper offshore waters) and, while protected, are not endangered.  They number between 25,000 and 50,000 in the vicinity of California, and now there are a few less ...  Read story here.

Long-beaked common dolphins

The U.S. Navy is expanding its Warfare Training Range Complexes along the shores of the West and East Coasts, the Gulf of Mexico, Alaska and Hawaii.  In the course of doing so, it is  requesting permission "to take" many species of marine mammals during its testing and training over the coming years (U.S. Federal Register, March 11, 2009).  Navy warfare programs employ sonar frequencies, explosive detonations, and hazardous chemicals such as white phosphorus.  What will the results be for creatures of the ocean, including millions of fish?

Dead bait fish Redondo Beach
One million dead sardines in Redondo Beach harbor, California (March 8, 2011)

A million bait fish (sardines and anchovies) amassed in a harbor in Southern California on March 8, 2011 and were asphyxiated due to lack of oxygen.  Where did they come from and why did they cluster there? is the big question.  "Experts" do not seem to know why.  Water sampling eliminated chemicals or oil as the cause.  The US Navy has established a training range complex just off the Southern California coastline, and perhaps their experiments are to blame?  Read on (AP article here), and consider the following report, as well ...

Perth, Australia saw a similar wave of bait fish deaths in early March 2011.  Far from the United States and the Navy's sonar, certainly, but why did this happen there?  Mere sonar needs a medium to travel in (like water or air), being mechanical in nature.  There are other kinds of frequencies, however (electromagnetic, for instance) that keep going regardless of medium.  What killed the fish Down Under?  ... Are other kinds of experiments going on?

Squid at LJ Cove 2002
Squid all over La Jolla Cove
(photo John Moore, click to enlarge)

I will never forget the day -- July 25, 2002 -- that I went down to La Jolla Cove for a swim and found it full of thousands of dead squid.  No one seemed to know how they got there.  They were piled on each other several feet deep, the ocean lapping over their still, pink-colored bodies.  Most people had given up any thought of taking a dip, but marine biologists were scrawling busily on notepads and discussing their views with one another.  Some thought Navy sonar might have been the culprit.  It was the largest local "mass stranding" in 100 years, according to one scientist.

The clean-up entailed a removal of 12 tons of squid, according to one report, and 9 tons according to another.  Do the math ... that's 18,000 to 24,000 pounds.  At several pounds each (these were jumbo squid), that would be literally thousands of animals in this one event.  The scientist mentioned above (Eric Hochberg of Santa Barbara) believed the squid had been chasing grunion spawning on the beach, but it does seem odd that thousands of squid would rush after a few grunion in this manner and kill themselves in such a small cove.  (See more photos here.)

Since then, many instances of squid washing up on Southern California beaches have occurred.  Humboldt squid (very large in size) came in after an earthquake in July 2009, alive but dazed.  On July 4th weekend 2009, the normally pleasant Southern California ocean water was a frigid 58 degrees.  It was the Humboldt current, people were told, and with it presumably came the squid.  But what of the "earthquake"?

Dolphins jumpingFrom a letter from several senators to the NOAA, dated June 17, 2009:  "In many regions, the Navy plans to increase the number of its exercises or expand the areas in which they may occur, and virtually every coastal state will be affected.  Some exercises may occur in the nation's most biologically sensitive marine habitats, including National Marine Sanctuaries and breeding habitat for the endangered North Atlantic right whale.  In all, the Navy anticipates more than 2.3 million takes (significant disruptions in marine mammal foraging, breeding, and other essential behaviors) per year, or 11.7 million takes over the course of a five-year permit..."

The letter was written to express concern about the expansion of Navy warfare testing programs to begin in 2009 and 2010 off the Atlantic, Gulf and Pacific U.S. coastlines.  Below is a map of the areas in which the warfare testing will occur.  The Navy's definition of the word "take" is: harass, hunt, capture, kill or collect, or attempt to harass, hunt, capture, kill or collect.  The word "take" refers to animals in the testing areas.

Navy Warfare Testing Ranges
Areas outlined in blue indicate the Navy's warfare testing ranges
(click image to enlarge)

A wide variety of marine life has already suffered (even died) due to Navy testing -- which includes detonating weapons and using sonar -- in the Hawaiian islands, off both coasts of the United States, and in the Gulf of Mexico.  The toxic chemicals used in the Navy's programs do not only harm living things, they contaminate water and air as well.  Some of the warfare exercises include bomb blasts and sonic booms, which can trigger earthquakes and damage nearby homes.

While the Navy states it is concerned about the environment, it has conducted its expansion plans for its warfare programs with great speed.  Draft Environmental Impact Statements have been issued, with very little time allowed for public comment.  Five-year Navy warfare programs are now already underway in many ocean areas, and more will continue to be approved if no action is taken by the public to demand U.S. Congressional hearings.  If you are concerned about the effects the warfare testing programs will have on marine life, ocean habitats and human health, you can call Congress at 866-220-0044.  Read more here.

For the US listing of Navy Range Complexes click here; for more information visit and its U.S. Navy section (lots of maps and reports on warfare testing, whales, sonar, depleted uranium and much more).

Northern California has woken up to the Navy Warfare Testing program off its quiet shoreline.  Activists are speaking out against it and responding with letters to the address given below (bottom of page).  The sonar testing, in particular, has many people worried, as it may affect any creature with "an air pocket in it [and] that's everything," according to Howard Garrett, a member of the Orca Network.  (Read more here.)

Voices speak out in this TV news program:

In November 2005, the Newport News, Virginia Daily Press reported that the US military had dumped "64 million pounds of nerve and mustard agents into the ocean, along with 400,000 chemical-filled bombs, land mines and rockets ... along with more than 500 tons of radioactive waste from World War II."
  Which ocean?  Where?  "... at least 26 locations off the coast of 11 states — six East Coast states, two on the Gulf Coast, California, Hawaii and Alaska."  Plus, "the Army dumped much of its overseas World War II stockpiles off the coast of 16 other countries."

1964 US army dumping
1964, Atlantic Ocean
US military dumps
one-ton containers of
mustard gas off a barge

According to the same article, the dumps stopped in 1970, when "Congress and international treaty banned the practice."  But, unfortunately, "the Army can't say exactly where all the weapons were dumped off the U.S. coast because records are sketchy, missing or were destroyed. Several dumpsites are within sight of land."

"The perception at the time was the ocean is vast — it would absorb it," said the director of a present-day grassroots citizens group.  An Army Chemical Materials Agency project manager admits:  "We do not claim to know where [the dump sites] all are ... We don't want to be cavalier and say this stuff was exposed to water and is okay.  It can last for a very, very long time."

That's 64 million pounds of nerve/mustard agents, 400,000 chemical bombs, and 500 tons of radioactive waste -- all over the world, being flushed throughout the ocean, the remnants lapping our shores.  (This was actually reported in USA Today for the benefit of American readers; see full article here.)  But that was the old days!  Surely they know better now?

The fact is that the Navy now intends to expand its training range complexes (for our security, of course) all around the shores of the United States.  These programs, by the Navy's own admission, would involve the release of toxic chemicals into water, air and also onto land.  Public comments concerning the Pacific Ocean program expansion are being accepted until October 12, 2010, and may be submitted at or by US mail to:

Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Northwest
1101 Tautog Circle, Suite 203
Attn: Mrs. Kimberly Kler - NWTRC EIS
Silverdale WA 98315-1101

Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southwest
2730 McKean Street, Building 291
Attn: Mr. Kent Randall - HSTT EIS/OEIS
San Diego CA 92136-5198

The Northwest US Navy's Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed training range expansion programs can be viewed here, and information about the Southwest Training Range Complex can be found here.  Question:  How will the chemicals (radioactive uranium, aluminum, lead, radioactive strontium, and titanium -- to name just a few) affect our health and environment?