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12 million whales, dolphins and other marine creatures threatened around the world by the Navy

U.S. Navy

(NaturalNews) Few people are aware that the U.S. Navy is actually allowed by law to disrupt the lives of all manner of sea life, even if it means they end up injured or dead.

An examination of the Navy's Northwest Training and Testing Environmental Impact Statement, along with data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), was recently carried out by a watchdog group known as the West Coast Action Alliance (WCAA).

Their findings were alarming: the Navy has made life miserable for nearly 12 million dolphins, whales, seals, porpoises and sea lions throughout the North Pacific Ocean in a period of just five years. This comes in the form of incidental "takes" involving marine mammals, which is a type of harm caused to animals that might entail harassment, injury or death. Even disruptions that cause behavioral changes can be thought of as harmful, since they can interrupt the animals' feeding or breeding schedules, or even drive them out of their safe habitats altogether, where they may meet some form of harm they would not ordinarily have encountered.

WCAA spokesperson, and former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service assistant regional director, Karen Sullivan, told Truth Out: "The numbers are staggering. When you realize the same individual animals can be harassed over and over again as they migrate to different areas, there is no mitigation that can make up for these losses except limiting the use of sonar and explosives where these animals are trying to live."

Even more disturbingly, these estimates are actually believed to be rather conservative. Moreover, they only account for marine mammals and not other species such as fish, turtles or birds.

Activities carried out by the Navy which are affecting wildlife include the use of explosives, sonar, underwater and surface drones, submarines, aircraft, explosives, and even the troops themselves training on beaches. This type of activity has been on the rise, with the October 2015 EIS showing a 50 percent increase in the disposal of explosive ordnance in Hood Canal and Crescent Harbor, a 778 percent increase in the number of torpedoes, a 3,500 percent jump in the number of sonobuoys, and a 400 percent rise in air-to-surface missile exercises.

Noise pollution reaching shocking levels

Noise pollution is one big area of concern, particularly when you consider just how vital hearing is to the survival of marine species. The threshold for human hearing damage is 85 decibels. The noise a Growler jet makes while passing overhead at 1,000 feet is one thousand times that, while Navy sonar can be 10 trillion times more intense than the human hearing threshold at the source.

Truth Out points out that underwater noise can reach 140 decibels from as far as 300 miles away – a level that can vibrate and rupture internal organs, and that the French government considers "a weapon to kill people." This is what our sea life is being subjected to.

Missiles, torpedoes, bombs and explosions

The Navy carries out two ship-sinking exercises every year with a large number of bombs, missiles and torpedoes. The 12 million takes that the Navy is allowed to cause do not even include proposed takes for the Gulf of Alaska, where the navy is proposing 36,522 takes each year. Some of the animals that suffer as a result of Naval activity in the Gulf of Alaska include endangered species such as the sperm whale, gray whale, blue whale, humpback whale and sea otter. Other affected species include the harbor seal, harbor porpoise, Pacific white-sided dolphin and northern elephant seal.

Similar activity in the waters around Southern California and Hawaii landed the Navy in court, where they were ordered to back off in a few areas deemed critical for marine mammal life. That agreement is set to expire in 2018, and does not extend to northern waters. To make matters worse, the Navy plans to boost its exercises in May, which is a major migratory season for a number of species that pass through the Gulf of Alaska.

The Pacific Ocean is being hit from all angles, from Fukushima radiation, to Navy activity, to over-fishing, prompting experts to liken the ocean to a "war zone," as countless animals wash up on the shore dying or already dead. The destruction of the ocean could have serious ramifications for human life before ending it altogether, which is why more should be done to protect this essential resource.

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