Monday, February 1, 2010
The Navy Gets It Wrong With Right Whales
Environmental groups have filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Savannah, Georgia, in an attempt to stop the United States Navy from building an Undersea Warfare Training Range in the Atlantic Ocean off Jacksonville, Florida. In addition to heavy ship traffic involving extensive mid-range active sonar, this 500 square nautical mile zone will entail hundreds of miles of undersea cables and acoustic devices. Clearly, after 9/11, the Navy must take whatever steps it deems necessary to protect the nation and while this training range may be the right thing to do, it is being done in the wrong place since the location is adjacent to the shallow waters where endangered North Atlantic Right Whales give birth to their calves each year from November to April. It is a brutal fact that whenever whales and warships come together, the whales always lose. Since there are only 300 to 350 Right Whales left on the planet, the death of even one can be devastating, especially when it could have been avoided. We are hopeful that the lawsuit will get the Navy to move their training range; however, we are not optimistic given that in November 2008 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Navy on a similar matter that threatened the lives of whales. It would seem that compromise is a term not found in U.S. Navy training manuals.