The Navy Has a Reckless Plan That Could Harm Thousands of Whales

Written by Frances Beinecke, President, NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council)

Every spring I travel to Mexico and sit in a fishing boat while massive gray whales slide through the water around me. The warm salty seas of Laguna San Ignacio attract gray whales that come to calve and nurse their young. Mothers often prod the babies close to our boats, and the little ones jump around like puppies. Sometimes the whales are so close I can look them in the eye. Seeing their strength and wild nature gives me renewed respect for these extraordinary creatures.

Unfortunately not everyone shares that respect. The U.S. Navy has just launched a training plan that will take an enormous toll on whales and other marine mammals. Commonsense precautions would allow the U.S. to protect whales without compromising military readiness, but the Navy has refused to use them.

NRDC is suing the Navy over this reckless plan, and now actor and marine mammal activist Pierce Brosnan has released a video drawing attention to what the plan means for the giants of the ocean.

Pierce explains that according to the Navy’s own estimates the training exercises could kill nearly 1,000 marine mammals and seriously injure more than 13,000.

The threat comes from the Navy’s use of sonar and explosives. Whales and other marine mammals use sound to locate food, find a mate, connect with friends and navigate their way through the world. When a sonar blast or explosion thousands of times more powerful than a jet engine fills their ears, the results can be devastating. “In the darkened sea, a deaf whale is a dead whale,” Pierce says.

And yet the Navy’s wants to blast ocean waters with nearly 300,000 hours of deafening mid-frequency sonar. This kind of barrage has been shown to cause whales’ internal organs to hemorrhage. The Navy also wants to conduct a range of underwater explosions averaging one detonation every two minutes for the next five year. Many of these bombardments will occur in and around sensitive whale habitat where animals mate and feed.

I am grateful to Pierce for helping NRDC shine a spotlight on this dangerous plan. He has long been a leader in the fight to protect whales and has supported NRDC’s effort to protect marine mammals from the hazards of ocean noise.

Now Pierce is helping hold the Navy accountable for its latest failure to safeguard whales. “The Navy should be putting vital whale habitat off limits to sonar and explosives during routine training,” he says in the video. “But they won’t do that unless you and I speak out right now.”

You can make your voice heard by clicking here and asking the government to take precautions that will protect whales without sacrificing national security.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

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Jim Ven
Jim Ven3 months ago

thanks for the article.

Carrie-Anne Brown
Carrie-Anne Brown9 months ago

thanks for sharing :)

Brenda Hixenbaugh

What is wrong with people? The ones that you would expect to show real responsibility shows the least. The Navy for what ever purpose made up or real is showing considerable inhumanity and intelligence. The whales are endangered as well as protected so aren't they breaking the international decision to protect and conserve these marvelous creatures? Again with two sets of rules and laws. This is unacceptable and needs to be addresses. Why do they have to keep doing this destructive garbage for? It is kinda like the labs doing the same cruel test on animals and getting the same results. Come on this is ignorant.. They already know what is going to happen so why waste all that ammo along with contaminating the water and endangering all the sea life? WHY? And if the personnel needs to practice let em use dummy ammo, it will serve the same purpose. Get real NAVY you are using unacceptable reasons just to destroy because you can, kinda like the animal hunters and trappers, and murders that do it because they can! Time for that thinking to be filed under extinct and the preservation of the life and planet be put into priority!.

Manuela C.
Manuela C.1 years ago


Lori R
Lori R.1 years ago

Truly sad indeed.

Stacey Temple
Stacey Temple1 years ago

Petition duly signed.

Lynn C.
Lynn c.1 years ago

Many here have spoken for me - thank you.

Borg Drone
Borg Drone1 years ago

Ban sonar and explosives in the ocean.

Mandy H.
Mandy H.1 years ago

Already signed. The military are so irresponsible, it's always about how to kill more people more effectively and never about actually saving lives of anyone who isn't an American.

Lonsdale Moon
Lonsdale Moon1 years ago

Quite apart from the fact I have no idea why the navy even wants or needs to do this, if they are going to proceed, which they will, then they must not be allowed to do this near any known whale habitats. The know they will kill & maim these creatures yet do nothing about it, and that is just plain wrong.