Hearing loss in whales caused by human noise pollution

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Dr. David Suzuki, a renowned Canadian environmentalist and activist, says human noise pollution is causing major hearing loss and other health problems in whales. “Sonar used in naval training is a major cause of debilitating and often deadly injuries to whales and other aquatic animals,” says Suzuki. “With their sensitive hearing, marine mammals are particularly vulnerable. Sonar disrupts their ability to communicate, migrate, breathe, nurse, breed, feed, find shelter and, ultimately, survive.”

In 2010, the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. navy estimated that over five years, navy activities in the Northwest Training Range — including high-intensity sound waves from sonar and live-fire and bombing exercises — would result in about 650,000 instances of harm to marine mammals. Though the navy has been conducting training exercises there for several decades, it recently sought permits to increase the intensity and pace.

Extending south from Puget Sound in Washington State to the Lost Coast region of Northern California, the training range provides habitat for eight threatened or endangered species of whales, pinnipeds (including seals and sea lions) and otters.

“Whales don't recognize international borders,” says Suzuki whose foundation has joined forces with three other Canadian environmental groups to stop the harmful activities.

Canadian environmental groups are participating in a U.S. court case to ensure approval of military exercises will not frustrate efforts to protect whales and help their populations recover. The court must consider information about the whales' conservation status under SARA, and international law requires the U.S. to prevent serious harm to transboundary whales.

Source:David Suzuki Foundation

Rose Simpson