RIMPAC 2014 - another whale death

SUBHEAD: It's not like this has not happened here before. The Navy washes off the blood and wears white.

By Juan Wilson on 27 July 2014 for Island Breath -

Image above: Image of pilot whale washed against shore along Hanalei Beach looking west. Photos provided by Pamela Burnell on 7/25/14. She noted: "My husband took these this morning.. 7ish.. distressing photo. He said it looked like it got shot??? It was still barely alive and thrashing about at the time."

It's not as if this has not happened before when the U.S. Navy is operating nearby. Shit happens! In this case another whale is stranded in Hanalei Bay here on Kauai during a RIMPAC exercise. Ten years ago, in 2004, it was 200 melonhead whales stranded (see below).

Some might call the current situation an improvement. Others might say the U.S. Navy is getting smarter about hiding the evidence of its crimes. And based on what we know now they are premeditated crimes.

By Phil Gast on 11 May 2012 for CNN -
Navy treads fine line when protecting marine mammals.

"I am not saying they are not well-intentioned," said Zak Smith, staff attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council. "But I am not sure their choices make the U.S. Navy the best environmental stewards they could be."

The debate over sonars and whales has gone on for years. It centers on balancing the need to defend the United States, while safeguarding its natural resources...

... Smith argued that the use of lookouts aboard Navy ships is not fully effective.

"Most marine mammals don't spend much time at the surface," he said. "When they do, you better have good weather conditions to see them."

Smith points to other consequences from the use of sonar and other acoustic sources off California and Hawaii.

Government estimates for 2014 to 2019 indicate there may be about 2 million cases of temporary hearing loss among marine animals, Smith told CNN. "Marine mammals use hearing the same way we use sight" to find food, he said.

"This kind of constant barrage and harassment is not a recipe for healthy populations," Smith added.

By David Kirby on 18 December  2013 for Yahoo News -  (http://www.natureworldnews.com/articles/5803/20140128/navy-sued-violating-marine-mammal-protection-act-connection-sonar-training.htm)

A coalition of animal and environmental organizations filed a lawsuit Monday against the National Marine Fisheries Service asking it to compel the U.S. Navy not to proceed with a five-year plan to increase sonar and live-fire training exercises in a massive swath of the Pacific Ocean.

Announced last Friday but anticipated for months, the naval plan would, according to a study conducted by the Navy, kill or injure up to 2,200 marine mammals. An additional 9.6 million incidences of minor harassment, such as forcing whales and dolphins to stop feeding in a certain area, could also occur.

Through 2019, Navy training and testing in this zone, which covers an area of the eastern Pacific Ocean larger than all 50 U.S. states combined, will emit upwards of 60,000 hours of the military’s “most powerful mid-frequency active sonar,” emit more than 50,000 hours of other frequency sonar, and detonate more than 260,000 explosives, according to a lawsuit—filed Monday in federal court in Honolulu by Earthjustice, the Center for Biological Diversity, and other groups—seeking an injunction against the plan.

Barring a court victory by the coalition, the carnage will be considerable.

Under current rules, Navy training and testing in the zone are permitted to kill or injure up to 100 marine mammals over a five-year period. “Now, they’re going to be killing or injuring 2,200 over five years—or 22 times more,” says David Henkin, an Earth Justice staff attorney.

From Koohan Paik on 30 July 2014 via email
I want to share with you all a very interesting comment I received from a top cetacean expert from Holland, now based in Peru, after I sent him the news of the whale washing ashore at Hanalei. Here's what he said (I highlighted the parts i found interesting):

"Seems things are turned upside down, why not have the Navy demonstrate they supposedly are not the culprits, the burden of proof should be on them as they are a proven hazard. A subadult pilot whale in good body weight coming ahore alive, alone and dying would be most consistent with acoustic trauma.

Let's see what the necropsy says. but then who will trust NOAA Fishery to report all the evidence. And Navy got themselves mortality allowance to start with. Any democratic consultation on that?"

and in another comment...

"Nobody should jump to conclusions before necropsy results are in, absolutely. But it is accepted and normal practice in any scientific investigation to suggest working hypotheses re most plausible causes of a studied phenomenon that requires explanation.

This helps focus the investigation. Anybody who suggests a priori that the RIMPAC exercises should not be a primary suspect, is being un-scientific, and is invited to provide arguments of why not."

Dolphins, whales and other marine mammals that depend on sonar and echolocation to find food and navigate, will be in the crosshairs of a five-year naval exercise in the waters between Southern California and Hawaii.

< The lawsuit, which was filed by the influential non-profit group National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and several conservation organizations, says that the federal government, via the National Marine Fisheries Services, illegally granted the Navy permission to harm marine mammals during its ongoing underwater sonar and explosives training activities, which are scheduled to take place until 2018.
The U.S. Navy's current strategy to "protect" America will inevitably lead to the destruction of life in the oceans. They have no healing tools - only weapon systems. They continue to deal death and destruction while pretending to care for the environment. RIMPAC - what a load of bullshit!

Below is the Garden Island News story.

Whale washes up, dies
By Tom LaVenture  on 26 July 2010 for the Garden Island -

Image above: Image og pilot whale washed against shore along Hanalei Beach looking east. Photos provided by Pamela Burnell on 7/25/14.

A 16-foot sub adult pilot whale was pulled from the water at Waioli Beach Park after it died Friday.

Terry Lilley, of Hanalei, a marine biologist who has been studying coral disease on the North Shore, said he was on the scene early Friday when the whale was still alive and washing up to shore.

“This whale was alive and breathing at 6 a.m. this morning,” Lilley said. “It was sideways and just rolling in. It was already dying and there was no way to save it.”

The popular beach on Hanalei Bay was crowded with hundreds of people who watched as the mammal was moved from the shoreline to a trailer and taken from the scene just before noon.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources took charge of removing the whale, using heavy equipment from the County of Kauai and a DLNR trailer. It was unknown if the whale was a male or female.

NOAA Fisheries Service, Pacific Islands Region spokesperson Wende Goo, said the death is being investigated.

“Arrangements are being made for a necropsy and other procedures,” Goo said. “We currently do not have enough information to be able to say how the whale died.”

Department of Land and Natural Resources enforcement personnel secured the site to safely recover the whale from where a large crowd watched.

Officials on scene discussed with volunteers the appearance of what looked like bite marks, possibly from a type of dogfish shark that gets its name from the way they attach and bite flesh with their snout, leaving deep, round marks on its prey.

Jean Souza, Hawaii programs coordinator for the Humpback Whale Hawaiian Islands National Marine Sanctuary, spoke to bystanders after the recovery to explain what had occurred and what would happen next to the whale. She said it is not uncommon for whales to beach there.

“Many times when they strand here in Hawaii, it is not like on the Mainland where a big tidal shift might cause them to get confused,” Souza said. “Most of the stranding that happens in Hawaii is because something is wrong with the animal.”

The mammal looked fresh with the skin intact and not yet decomposing, she said.

“That is the reason for quickly getting it off the beach to ship it to Oahu, for NOAH Fisheries to conduct a complete necropsy,” Souza said. “Because it is fairly fresh that means the chances are good for getting good information about tissue and structure.”

Lilley said the death could be a result of the military’s RIMPAC exercises going on in Hawaiian waters. The fact that a young and otherwise healthy whale died showing no visible signs of disease or attack should make military sonar and other war game activities suspect, he said.

Lilley said the military has a permit to injure or kill whales and dolphins during the ongoing multinational maritime exercise.

“This pilot whale has great body weight, and shows no visible infections, no problems with its mouth, and just two round wounds on the side that look like gaff wounds,” Lilley said. “This is a very healthy adult pilot whale with good weight, no obvious problems.”

Navy spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Nick Sherrouse said there is no indication that the loss of this animal was caused by naval activities and it would be premature to speculate.

“The Navy cares about the ocean environment, and we are fully cooperating with the National Marine Fisheries Service on the investigation,” Sherrouse said.

RIMPAC 2010 return stirs debate
By Coco Zyckos on 11 July 2010 for the Garden Island -

Image above: A mix of cetacean species stranded together in Tasmania in 2009 was enough to arouse suspicions of a human factor, including the use of sonar by the military. Photo by Dennis Fujimoto. From (http://kahea.wordpress.com/2009/03/02/another-mass-whale-stranding/).

The return of the military’s biennial Rim of the Pacific Exercise this month has environmentalists concerned.

Training activities associated with sonar have coincided with marine mammal strandings in the past, including some 200 melon-headed whales which herded into Hanalei Bay for more than 28 hours during the Navy’s 2004 RIMPAC exercises, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration documents.

“During this period, please keep your eyes open” said Surfrider’s Dr. Carl Berg. “We have to be super vigilant and really look out for the marine environment.”

Even though “causation” of the 2004 event was never “unequivocally determined,” the NOAA reported that “the active sonar transmissions” during that time were “a plausible, if not likely, contributing factor.”

“For them to come into the bay is definitely unusual behavior,” said Pacific Missile Range Facility spokesman Tom Clements.

However, one to two marine mammal strandings occur “somewhere in the state” each month, he said. “Biologists have told me this is a natural occurrence, and necropsies typically show disease as the cause.”

There has been no evidence of any stranding taking place during RIMPAC’s month-long exercises of 2006 and 2008, Clements added.

Marine mammals — who use sound to communicate, travel and discover food — have attempted to avoid sonar in the past, according to NOAA documents. Four mass strandings — Greece in 1996, Bahamas in 2000, Madeira in 2000 and Canary Islands in 2002 — involved beaked whales (similar to melon-headed whales) and NOAA identified the “most likely” cause as “active military sonar.”

Sonar produces “intense sound waves that sweep the ocean like a floodlight, revealing objects in their path,” according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. Some sonar systems emit sound waves that “can travel tens or even hundreds of miles of ocean.”

Even at 300 miles, the “sonic waves” can “retain an intensity of 140 decibels — a hundred times more intense than the level known to alter the behavior of large whales,” the NRDC says.

Many of the whales involved in mass strandings where they beach themselves suffer “physical trauma, including bleeding around the brain, ears and other tissues” along with “large bubbles in their organs,” according to the NRDC.

“Deep-diving whales seem to be especially affected by low-frequency sounds, even at quite low received levels,” according to a 1998 study conducted by A. Frantzis at the Department of Biology’s Zoological Laboratory in Athens, Greece.

Melon-headed whales “prefer deep, equatorial ocean waters and are thought to feed deep in the water column,” according to NOAA.

The Navy’s most widely used sonar systems operate in the mid-frequency range, according to the NRDC.

Sonar is “not the primary focus” of the Navy’s training activities, Clements said. And several measures are employed when training in areas known to host marine mammals.

In addition, the Navy is one of the “largest contributors” to the billions of dollars spent every year to determine the effect of sonar on marine mammals.

“There is a whole lot more research to be done before we start looking at conclusions,” Clements said.

Moreover, this year’s RIMPAC activities are “almost exclusively off-shore,” Clements said. There are no scheduled actives on Kaua‘i.

“We’re not calling wolf,” Berg said. “This is something that’s real. It could happen again.”

RIMPAC 2008 - Navy to use sonar

By William Cole on 24 January 2007 in the Honolulu Star Bulletin -

Image above: Still image from KITV-News video of stranded dead beaked whale being removed from beach on Molokai durint RIMPAC 2008. From (http://www.islandbreath.org/2008Year/17-peace_war/0817-27RIMPACkillswhale.html). See also (http://earthjustice.org/news/press/2008/navy-sonar-heard-nearby-one-day-before-whale-strands-on-moloka-i-beach).

The Defense Department has exempted the Navy and its use of sonar from the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act for two years — causing an outcry from a national environmental group that maintains the underwater sound harms whales.

Last summer, a six-month exemption granted during biennial Rim of the Pacific, or Rimpac, naval exercises off Hawai'i led to a legal challenge, and a federal judge briefly prohibited midfrequency sonar use during the war games.

Rimpac is one of the largest naval exercises in the world, and last year involved eight nations, more than 40 ships, six submarines, 160 aircraft and almost 19,000 service members.

The new two-year exemption is the latest turn in an ongoing battle that has pitted environmentalists and emerging science on the harm of sonar to whales against the Navy's need for sonar training to detect a growing fleet of extremely quiet foreign diesel submarines.

The next court clash could come over expected Navy sonar use off the coast of California, but the Defense Department exemption would extend through the 2008 Rimpac exercises off Hawai'i.

Federal marine regulators last spring said sonar use was a "plausible, if not likely, contributing factor" in the stranding of up to 200 melon-headed whales off Kauai during July 2004 Rimpac war games.

The mass stranding of such whales was the largest recorded in Hawaii waters, but the science related to sonar impact on various types of marine animals is far from clear-cut.

"The Navy's position is that continued training with active sonar is absolutely essential in protecting the lives of our sailors and defending the nation," the Pentagon said yesterday in announcing the exemption.

The Defense Department also said the Navy continues to work with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, on a long-term sonar-use plan, and a range of marine mammal protection measures will remain in place.

"We will continue to employ stringent mitigation measures, developed with NOAA's concurrence, to protect marine mammals during all sonar activities," said Rear Adm. James Symonds, director of environmental readiness for the Navy.

But the Natural Resources Defense Council, which filed suit against the Navy in 2005 over midfrequency sonar use, said "numerous" mass strandings and deaths have been associated with sonar use.

Joel Reynolds, a senior attorney and director of the Natural Resources Defense Council's Marine Mammal Protection Project, objected to the exemption from federal law.

"Obviously, the (Marine Mammal Protection Act) is a statute that is designed to protect marine mammals," Reynolds said. "When you nullify that, there's no getting around the fact that they are undermining the protection that federal environmental law provides."

Reynolds said the Navy has "more than enough room in the ocean to train effectively without injuring or killing endangered whales and other marine species," but chooses some locations because of their convenience.

Responding to growing scientific evidence that sonar can disrupt, injure or kill whales or dolphins, the Navy for the first time last summer sought a federal permit under the Marine Mammal Protection Act to "harass" the sea creatures when it uses midfrequency sonar during Rimpac.

After NOAA Fisheries granted the permit, environmental groups sued to try to stop it. The Defense Department stepped in, said national defense concerns pre-empted the act, and granted a six-month exemption.

A federal judge subsequently said other environmental laws still applied and ordered the Navy and environmental groups to negotiate.

Among the protections the Navy agreed to undertake were to not use sonar within 25 miles of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument, and to report the presence of marine mammals detected through underwater listening devices or visual scanning.

The Navy also posted one person per ship whose job it was to search the waters for marine mammals during the exercises, and three others keeping an eye out.

Instead of applying for federal permits to "harass" marine animals for each and every sonar exercise, the Navy wants to conduct environmental impact analyses for "bodies of water."

"We did it (individually) for Rimpac, and that was kind of the example of, 'This isn't going to work,' " said Lt. Ryan Perry, a Navy spokesman at the Pentagon.

Reynolds said the Navy can accomplish some of its sonar training at locations such as the Pacific Missile Range Facility ocean areas, "but the way they've done it historically is to train all over the Hawaiian Islands, and inside of sanctuaries, really without regard to environmental harm. I think that's a mindset that has to change."

RIMPAC 2004 - Melonheads Stranded

Editorial on 1 September 2004 in the Honolulu Star Bulletin -

Image above: Two-hundred melon-head whales swim in circles in the shallow waters of Hanalei Bay in this July 3, 2004. The return of Navy RIMPAC exercises this month has environmentalists concerned a similar situation could arise again. Photo by Dennis Fujimoto. From (http://thegardenisland.com/news/local/rimpac-return-stirs-debate/article_223d6a68-8d7d-11df-8d90-001cc4c002e0.html).

The Navy has acknowledged that sonar was used in the hours before a pod of deep-water whales swam into Hanalei Bay. New information calls into question the Navy's contention that the use of sonar during maneuvers off Kauai had nothing to do with driving a large pod of deep-water whales into Hanalei Bay during the Fourth of July weekend.

The information further validates a collection of evidence, which the Navy dismisses, that sonar presents a danger to marine life and buttresses arguments for some restraints.

About 200 melon-headed whales alarmed residents and marine biologists they were spotted in the bay about 7:30 a.m. July 3, swimming in a tight circle about 100 feet from the beach. These whales normally stay at least 15 miles off shore. Specialists and volunteers managed to herd the whales out to sea, but a newborn calf became separated from the pod and eventually died of starvation.

At the time, Rim of the Pacific naval exercises were being conducted about 20 miles northwest of Kauai, but Navy officials said no sonar had been used before the whales were seen in the bay. A spokesman told the Star-Bulletin that active sonar-tracking simulations had not begun until 8 a.m. while another told the Washington Post the exercises began at 8:30 a.m.

The Navy now acknowledges that ships had used their sonar at intervals through about 20 hours before the whales appeared in the bay and specifically from 6:45 and 7:10 a.m. on July 3, according to the Post.

The Navy still maintains that the ships' distance and the time frame do not mesh with the near-stranding, but its conclusions appear as uncertain as its credibility.

Growing evidence suggests that sonar can kill marine mammals by causing their organs to hemorrhage or by frightening them so they beach, as the Navy has admitted happened in the Bahamas four years ago. There have been dozens of other incidents -- off the coast of Washington State, the Canary Islands, northwest Africa, the U.S. Virgin Islands and in Greece -- when strandings and deaths have coincided with sonar exercises.

Moreover, scientists suspect that most of the mammals harmed by sonar use aren't even tallied since their deaths may occur at sea.

The Navy says exercises are necessary to prepare sailors and Marines to counter a substantial and growing threat from diesel submarines that can only be detected by active sonar, but safeguards may be in order. Training can be conducted in low-risk areas and sonar signals can be reduced to minimize risk to ocean wildlife. Protecting whales and other marine animals need not be at odds with national security.

Kayaks used to move the whales out to sea

By Mary Vorsino on 5 July 2004 for the Honolulu Star Bulletin -


Hundreds of volunteers herded a pod of about 200 melon-headed whales out of Kauai's Hanalei Bay and into deeper water yesterday morning, a day after the animals had initially come near shore in what experts called unusual behavior.

"It was a storybook ending," said Bob Braun, a veterinarian who helped lead the effort to get the whales out of the bay, "scripted from Hollywood ... and putting an exclamation point on Independence Day."

While in the bay, the whales stayed "in a fairly tight group" about 100 yards offshore and did not appear to be in distress, Braun said.

Some 200 volunteers, officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and marine biologists from other organizations drove the whales into deeper water by moving out from shore in kayaks and canoes, he said.

"There was an awful lot of people involved," Braun said. "It was an extraordinary effort by a very large, diverse group."

By about 10:30 a.m. the group had prodded the pod more than a half-mile out. No whales had returned to the bay last night, but residents were expected to monitor the waters and alert officials if the animals returned.

The whales were first spotted in the bay at about 7:30 a.m. Saturday. Lifeguards said they remained tightly packed together throughout yesterday and made no effort to swim toward the beach or the open mouth of the bay.

Marine biologists on Oahu who specialize in whale strandings arrived at the bay Saturday evening and camped on the beach overnight to make sure no whales came too close to shore. Bay residents also kept a close watch, Braun said.

Pods of melon-headed whales, which range from 100 to 500, are often seen in Hawaiian waters, but they usually swim at least 20 miles offshore.

"They're an offshore species," said Tamra Faris, a NOAA assistant regional administrator for protective species. "It's very unusual. ... The main pod was in a fairly healthy state."

The last time there was a mass sighting of melon-headed whales close to shore was about 40 years ago off the Big Island. There is no record of any similar events occurring in Hanalei Bay, Faris said.

It's still unclear why the whales came into the bay, she said.

And it's too early to tell whether Navy Rim of the Pacific sonar exercises Saturday morning were a factor in the whales' behavior, said RIMPAC spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Greg Geisen.

After the Navy received word of the whales' movement into the bay Saturday afternoon, sonar operations were suspended as a precaution.

"There's so many potential causes of this," said Brad Ryon, a NOAA marine biologist. "It's really hard to determine what it would be. There's always a potential that (the sonar) might have some effect. But there's not enough information to conclude anything about the cause."

The Navy had six ships about 23 miles northwest of Kauai at about 8 a.m. Saturday in operations that involved underwater sonar tracking, Geisen said.

He said the Navy will look over the ships' logs to determine how close they were to the pod while sonar was in use. He could not say when sonar tracking would be resumed.

"The best we can do is to make sure that we have a very good idea on where our vessels were when they were using that sonar," he said.

Navy scientists and mathematicians, Geisen said, are trying to figure out whether "sound could have traveled" in the direction of the whales.

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: RIMPAC 2014 in Full March 7/16/14
Ea O Ka Aina: 21st Century Energy Wars 7/10/14
Ea O Ka Aina: RIMPAC War on the Ocean 7/3/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Voila - World War Three 7/1/14
Ea O Ka Aina: The Pacific Pivot 6/28/14
Ea O Ka Aina: RIMPAC IMPACT 6/8/14
Ea O Ka Aina: RIMPAC Then and Now 5/16/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Earthday TPP Fukushima RIMPAC 4/22/14
Ea O Ka Aina: The Asian Pivot - An ugly dance 12/5/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Help save Mariana Islands 11/13/13
Ea O Ka Aina: End RimPac destruction of Pacific 11/1/13 
Ea O Ka Aina: Moana Nui Confereence 11/1/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Navy to conquer Marianas again  9/3/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Pagan Island beauty threatened 10/26/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Navy license to kill 10/27/12 
Ea O Ka Aina: Sleepwalking through destruction 7/16/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Okinawa breathes easier 4/27/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Navy Next-War-Itis 4/13/12
Ea O Ka Aina: America bullies Koreans 4/13/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Despoiling Jeju island coast begins 3/7/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Jeju Islanders protests Navy Base 2/29/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Hawaii - Start of American Empire 2/26/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Korean Island of Peace 2/26/12   
Ea O Ka Aina: Military schmoozes Guam & Hawaii 3/17/11
Ea O Ka Aina: In Search of Real Security - One 8/31/10
Ea O Ka Aina: Peace for the Blue Continent 8/10/10
Ea O Ka Aina: Shift in Pacific Power Balance 8/5/10
Ea O Ka Aina: RimPac to expand activities 6/29/10
Ea O Ka Aina: RIMPAC War Games here in July 6/20/10
Ea O Ka Aina: Pacific Resistance to U.S. Military 5/24/10
Ea O Ka Aina: Guam Land Grab 11/30/09
Ea O Ka Aina: Guam as a modern Bikini Atoll 12/25/09
Ea O Ka Aina: GUAM - Another Strategic Island 11/8/09
Ea O Ka Aina: Diego Garcia - Another stolen island 11/6/09
Ea O Ka Aina: DARPA & Super-Cavitation on Kauai 3/24/09
Island Breath: RIMPAC 2008 - Navy fired up in Hawaii 7/2/08
Island Breath: RIMPAC 2008 uses destructive sonar 4/22/08
Island Breath: Navy Plans for the Pacific 9/3/07
Island Breath: Judge restricts sonar off California 08/07/07
Island Breath: RIMPAC 2006 sonar compromise 7/9/06
Island Breath: RIMPAC 2006 - Impact on Ocean 5/23/06
Island Breath: RIMPAC 2004 - Whale strandings on Kauai 9/2/04
Island Breath: PMRF Land Grab 3/15/04

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