Navy should reconsider exercises in Gulf of Alaska

Posted: Thursday, November 18, 2010

I wish to express my concern regarding the Navy's use of mid-frequency active sonar in the Gulf of Alaska in the summer of 2011. I understand it is the intention of the Navy to undergo extensive training exercises at that time. I also understand and respect the need to maintain a level of military readiness against any and all potential threats against the United States. However, my goal for writing this letter is to open your eyes to serious and fatal damage the Navy may inflict upon innocent and endangered marine life.

All marine life thrives on the balanced acoustic environment underwater. Disruptions to this habitat can risk animal life. Mid-frequency sonar in aquatic environments, even 300 miles from the source, retains an intensity of 140 decibels, equating to a level 100 times more intense than the level known to alter the behavior of large whales. The use of mid-frequency active sonar is so detrimental, it causes marine mammals to dramatically change their behavior and flee their aquatic habitat, causing them to surface too quickly. This results in cranial hemorrhaging. Countless whales and porpoises are stranded during naval exercises. One instance in January of 2006, at least 34 whales beached along the coast of the Outer Banks of North Carolina while training was carried out by a naval fleet.

I urge you to take a stand and fight for naval training in the Gulf of Alaska to be halted; the Navy has already it met its annual required training between April and October, according to an article titled "Concerns grow over Navy Sonar training in the Gulf of Alaska" which appeared in the Jan. 17 Empire. Even though Shelia Murray states in the same article, "The Navy does a lot of things to avoid any type of interaction with any type of marine mammal" there still seems to be numerous fatal strandings of aquatic life. Can the death of innocent marine life be on the Navy's conscience? Can it be on yours?

As a citizen of the Earth, we all have a responsibility to preserve the life it holds. Exterminating a species, or even endangering its well-being is a serious offense as this action could be irreversible. Every organism, animal and habitat is essential to the balance of the environment. I hope that you will find it logical and moral to fight the use of mid-frequency active sonar.

Amanda Bentley

Rochester, N.Y.

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