by Bobbie Sandoz, MSW -
(*The death of canaries taken into coal mines warned
miners of trouble below.)
In the last few months, hundreds of dolphins are washing
up dead along European shores while dolphins and whales are again
playing with people in Hawaii after two years of ignoring them following
our government sonifying these high level beings in their own Marine
Sanctuary. This grateful return of their friendliness toward humans in
Hawaii is clearly an act of forgiving the unforgivable.
In January, hundreds of dolphins stranded along our
eastern coast, while a superpod of orcas off California circled a group
of boats to flirt and play with the people aboard, then remained afloat
on the surface as the sun set on their fins. A similar contrast occurred
last summer when a group of San Juan Orcas appeared in time to
appreciate a human concert given in their honor, showing particular
interest in Amazing Grace, or forgiveness without merit, while hundreds
of their gray whale cousins washed up dead on west coast shores.
Although these events contribute to an uneasy yet
growing pattern of marine mammal strandings juxtaposed to their kindness
to us, there has been little media coverage of this disturbing
phenomenon or a true investigation of why it is happening. Are we so
indifferent that we don't really care or is there a massive
To add to the disquiet of these events, independent
scientists strongly disagree with government-funded "experts" on the
true effect of an extremely intense and apparently lethal force going
into the ocean called low frequency active sonar (LFAS) that appears to
be leaving a trail of corpses in its path. Yet, in spite of the
controversy over its safety, our government is pushing forward to deploy
this risky technology in 80% of the world's oceans in an apparent effort
to get it underway before the public learns more about it.
Will we remain cooperatively in denial, uninformed, and
dangerously silent in the face of this potential planetary holocaust as
we have in the past, or will we awaken in time to stop this serious
threat to all marine life? And, if we fail to respond, what will the
consequences be for our own survival and souls?
In view of a possible cover-up buttressed by our
indifference, could it be that the intelligent dolphins and whales are
making their way to our public and popular shores before dying in order
to serve as "beached canaries" that warn of something amiss in their
hidden world beneath the sea? If so, will their massive deaths at our
feet pull us out of deep moral slumber or fall on the cold hearts of an
**The LFAS Story**
Following a brief yet troubled period of LFAS testing at
levels far below those planned for actual use that resulted in trauma
and death, this reckless technology is in the process of being pushed
toward premature deployment in 80% of the world's oceans.
Sadly, slick propaganda programs dispensed by in-house
"experts" have succeeded in convincing a slumbering media and uninformed
populous that the dolphins and whales are unaffected by intensely
explosive blasts ripping through their ocean home with sustained
intensity for hundreds of miles, causing damage and death in their wake.
Thus, in contrast to government claims of safety,
outraged boat captains, swimmers, independent researchers, and
environmentalists have observed this technology to be highly disruptive
and deadly to marine life, even at the considerably lower decibels used
during brief public testing than those planned for actual extensive and
Even more frustrating, the National Marine Fisheries
Service (NMFS), established to protect marine life, appears to be
aligned with the government-funded "experts" promoting LFAS. They also
appear to be ignoring required protocol in order to prematurely slip the
U.S. Navy a permit to harass and kill whales which will serve as the
green light needed to unleash this risky technology into full and
unfettered, classified deployment.
Eerily, the NMFS is also the organization assigned to
oversee the testing done on the "beached canaries" stranding on our
shores. Yet, while they publicly serve as the protector of marine life,
behind the scenes they seem to prefer keeping these strandings in the
category of an "unsolved mystery" to risking discovery of a possible
connection to sonar exposure by checking their ears for rupture or their
tissue for signs of explosion and shredding. Instead of conducting these
revealing tests, they offer vague explanations that don't hold up, while
focusing their search for answers solely on viruses, red tides, and
other toxic algae that were neither in the problem areas nor have caused
this kind of cetacean carnage in the past.
In view of this seeming bias in favor of LFAS and the
dual role it creates for the NMFS, should they ever concede to test the
ears or tissue of stranded marine corpses for sonar exposure, the public
would be wise to insist that non government-funded and independent
researchers bear witness to their exams.
It's also important to notice that the brain and tissue
fissures, lesions, and ruptures as well as mass starvation consistently
found in these and other recent marine mammal corpses resemble the
symptoms of sonar exposure described by the Marine Mammal Commission
when in 1997 they predicted that lung and tissue hemorrhage and trauma
in marine mammals (and fish) as well as cavity explosion and hearing
loss causing subsequent starvation was likely to occur if LFAS was
employed worldwide as proposed.
So why is the connection between these known symptoms of
sonar exposure (similar to microwave explosions) and those found in
stranded marine mammal corpses being ignored -- especially when sonar
activities are rumored to be taking place in several of the affected
And, now that we are on the brink of full deployment of
this unexamined force, will the American public awaken in time to make
the connection, check its validity, and if there is a connection, stop
the madness? Or, will we remain drugged by our usual denial and the
silence of fear and apathy as we have during other holocausts at human
hands, enabling yet more government crimes against nature and others as
well as ourselves?
Could this be the pivotal point at which humans decide
if we will orchestrate our own self-destruction with our typically
passive response to impersonal government actions or rally as caring
individuals in time to uncover the path of our more conscious,
courageous, and higher selves as well as a safe and golden future for
our world, ourselves, our children, and our grandchildren?
I was pondering these questions one day as I swam in a
bay amidst 50 dolphins who approached and circled me, then stayed to
play for over an hour. I was surprised by their visit in view of my
mood, since they usually avoid me when my thoughts are weighty. But, on
this particular day they swam near me to play, show off their babies,
and engage me in beguiling and flirty gazes. I reflected on my decade of
friendship with these high-level beings and the notable lessons I had
learned from them that I had not learned from humans about how to be a
more loving and joyful human being.
I wondered as I swam if my species would have the wisdom
to allow the sweet grace of these bright and loving beings to serve as
mirrors reflecting our need to seek a higher place in ourselves where we
might act as kindly toward others as cetaceans do. I also thought of the
American Indian elders predicting that whatever happens to "the great
beast" -- or whale -- will also happen to humanity, and I wondered which
fork in the road of our forecasted futures we would take -- the
Apocalypse or golden age.
Then it occurred to me that as humanity stands at the
portal of the new millennium, it is in our power to select which road we
will travel. We can continue to kill the saints and sages in our midst
or change the course of human history by surrendering our self-centered
ways to their more lofty and loving teachings.
Yet before we can claim this higher potential, we must
address what kind of species we truly want to be and which future we
wish to create. We must then commit to becoming and creating whatever we
choose. I also realized that to succeed in doing this we need look no
further than to the model of loving kindness the dolphins and whales
offer or the manifesting tools the dolphins revealed to me in "Listening
to Wild Dolphins" which I have woven into my suggestions for how we can
respond to the LFAS challenge.
INFORMATION AND RESOURCES
***PATTERN OF STRANDINGS THAT MAY LINK TO LFAS ACTIVITY:
* EUROPE - In February, 2000, 100s of dolphins began
washing up on European shores.
* THE ATLANTIC COASTLINE - On January 21, 2000, Katie
Couric asked on "The Today Show" why hundreds of dolphins are beaching
along the Atlantic coastline. Although brain and other tissue lesions
have been found in these cetaceans, one of the symptoms predicted by the
Marine Mammal Commission in 1997 for LFAS exposure, ears are not being
checked. In view of the far-reaching effect of sonar exposure predicted
by independent researchers, some suspect apparent NATO sonar in the
general area may be the cause.
* FLORIDA - On January 3, 2000, Associated Press
reported that scientists were trying to determine why dolphins have been
washing up dead on northwest Florida shores over the last month.
Although a previously severe outbreak of red tide did not kill dolphins,
it appears that only red tide and other toxins are being examined as a
possible cause, rather than also include an examination of their ear
canals to prove or disprove the important variable of possible sonar
* THE VIRGIN ISLANDS - In early October, 1999,
scientists in the water heard sonar sounds, followed by multiple
cetacean strandings in the area. Government-funded ear canal testing
expert Dr. Darlene Ketten from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, was
summoned by many groups to run ear canal tests, but results have not yet
been revealed. If they are, citizens must determine if anyone other than
government-funded scientists were present in order to neutralize any
conflicts of interest.
* THE CANARY ISLANDS - A total of 21 whale strandings in
1985, 1988, and 1989 were linked to visible US Navy maneuvers. These
were the only times that whales were reported to strand in the Canary
Islands. (Nature, 1991) Award-winning French biologist Dr. Michael
Andre, free from our government's influence, learned from necropsies
while studying the decline in sperm whales in this area that two of the
whales (who were involved in the increasing whale collisions with boats
in the area) were deaf as suspected.
* THE ATLANTIC COAST - In 1987, dolphins exposed to 235
decibels of sonar stranded and were found to suffer from tissue and lung
explosion. (This information was allegedly found by Dr. Joe Geraci and
buried in reports on file.) Since this revelation, there has been a
great deal of resistance to obtaining autopsies that check for these
types of problems, also predicted by the Marine Mammal Commission in
1997 (possibly based on Dr. Geraci's findings) to be a consequence of
* THE HARO STRAIT, SAN JUAN ISLANDS - In the Summer of
1996, 195 decibels were sent into this key waterway used by orcas,
porpoises, seals, and other mammals, followed by an increase in
strandings of these mammals. ABC News recently reported that the
previously thriving orca population from this area is now in enough
trouble to be considered eligible for the Endangered Species list.
* THE MEDITERRANEAN SEA NEAR GREECE - In 1996, twelve
Cuvier's beaked whales documented to be exposed to NATO sonar at 150-160
decibels were found stranded. At the same time about 200 stranded
dolphins were suspected of suffering from tissue explosion. (Nature,
1996) LFAS levels to be used by the U.S. are reported to be 180 decibels
in areas near shore and could go considerably higher, once deployment is
underway and this program is classified.
* THE HAWAIIAN ISLANDS - In 1998, three whale calves and
one dolphin calf were found dead or abandoned during and immediately
following sonar testing, even though in 15 years of research this
phenomenon had never been observed. One of these was a distressed whale
calf who breached 230 times and pectoral slapped 658 times in front of
Dr. Marsha Green's research team in a four-hour period before the sun
set on his distress. In addition, a pod of dolphins was observed by
naturalists familiar with normal dolphin behavior huddling unusually
close to the shore near the surface and vocalizing excessively while the
sound was on.
* CALIFORNIA- Since the open testing in California began
in 1997, sonar exposed whales immediately began to strand in increased
numbers. In addition, there was a report of uncharacteristically
aggressive behavior which is known to be a symptom of LFAS exposure.
More recently, The Malibu Times reported in January, 1999, that more
than 150 gray whales were found dead due to starvation along their
migratory route where testing took place in 1998. Starvation can be a
result of deafness, but ears were not checked in these cetaceans, even
though the cause of death has remained a mystery.
* AUSTRALIA - Rumor has it that the Australian
government has questioned a connection between observed US Navy and NATO
maneuvering and strandings off their shores.
* UNKNOWN - In view of indications that brain and body
tissue explodes and body cavities (bladders, lungs, and ear canals)
rupture when exposed to sonar blasts, it is plausible to assume that
most affected marine mammals will sink to the ocean floor, rather than
make their way to a beach in order for us to view their plight. And who
knows what the effect this risky technology has on the thousands of
other, smaller forms of marine life, less able to withstand such a
***For More Information and Evidence of LFAS Problems,
*LEGAL INFORMATION AND CURRENT LAWSUIT AGAINST THE US
*ASK YOUR LOCAL ABC AFFILIATE TV STATION TO AIR:
"WHEN THE WHALES STOP SINGING"
This excellent news special report on the Navy's Low
Frequency Active Sonar (LFAS) was filmed by Dan Noyes of KGO TV News:
ABC TV in San Francisco. Ask your ABC station manager to call KGO News
in San Francisco to request a copy of this two part special to air in
your vicinity. KGO News has agreed to send out copies of this video to
other ABC stations, and to give them permission to air it. It is a short
video, only 10 minutes long, and can be run as part of a news program.
***INTERVIEW AUTHOR AND PANEL OF INDEPENDENT EXPERTS ON
LFAS who sincerely hope they are wrong about their concerns regarding
the potential danger of LFAS, but believe people should know what they
have uncovered in the event they are not wrong:
Dr. Marsha Green (OMI/Marine Biologist/ Professor)
Lanny Sinkin (Attorney) 808-961-9100
Dr. Lee Tepley (Physicist) 650-961-7440
Dr. Linda Weilgart (Independent Marine Biologist)
Cheryl Magill (LFAS Activist) 650-429-2116
Bobbie Sandoz, MSW (Author) - 808-524-6775
Dr. Naomi Rose, (Director, Humane Society of the United
States - HSUS)
WAYS TO RESPOND
*We must first face the seriousness of the threat LFAS
poses to marine life and ourselves. For only then, will we break our
silence and engage in clear but gentle action with the urgency this
*We must then let our Congressional representative,
ultimately responsible for this program, know of its possible
consequences and insist that they stop all forward movement of this
program until it can be proven that it will not cause the massive
destruction concerned non-government scientists and citizens fear.
*We must then insist on extensive and highly monitored
necropsies of currently stranded mammals, including full ear exams --
since such tests could expose possible sonar exposure. Only by having
this information will we know if the sonar technology is connected to
these deaths as many environmentalists suspect.
*We must then insist that the National Marine Fisheries
Services (NMFS) halt all movement toward deployment of this unexamined
*We must demand that the possibility of a conflict of
interest on the part of NMFS be seriously scrutinized in view of their
apparent bias and seeming partnership with the U.S. Navy in this risky
government operation they have been charged with overseeing.
*We must send copies of all correspondence on this and
other protests to the media, our president, and congressional
representatives -- since such letters give witness to our concerns and
constitute our greatest power to influence or reverse government
decisions we do not approve.
*Some, including myself, will view this issue as
important enough to organize a peacefully powerful march in Washington
since visibility and numbers are imperative to change in this country.
*Hopefully, responsible media will invite the listed
panel of independent experts who have uncovered evidence that points to
potentially serious and illegal errors and omissions made in the process
of testing and activating this technology they consider far more
dangerous than claimed.
*Teachers may wish to introduce this topic in their
classrooms and invite students to uncover, lobby for, and implement
solutions. In doing this, we enlist the spirits and insights of this
national treasure to help us become our best selves while teaching the
art of kindness, cooperation, and friendship with our global family.
Author: Bobbie Sandoz -
Phone: 808-524-6775 Fax: 808-538-0423
As some of you will be aware, there has been a mass
mortality of cetaceans in the Bahamas over the last few days. As of
Saturday, at least 12 beaked whales (Mesoplodon densirostris and Ziphius
cavirostris), 1 minke whale, 1 dolphin, and 1 unidentified balaenopterid
(Brydes or fin) had died, with other ziphiids stranding live and being
pushed back out. Mortalities occurred between Grand Bahama and the
Abacos; given the number and isolation of islands in the area, it is
very likely that not all carcasses have been located.
The mortality coincides with US Navy exercises in the
area; the exercises appear to have involved explosives detonation,
although active acoustics work *may* have been conducted also. There is
no confirmation that the latter occurred in this area, or whether LFA
activity was involved. (LFA = Low Frequency Active acoustics, a highly
controversial anti-submarine technology which has been the subject of
much debate in the marine mammal field. Recall that a NATO LFA exercise
in the Med is widely believed to have been responsible for a mass
mortality of beaked whales a few years ago).
As of this morning (Monday), five ziphiids had been
secured and necropsied by Ken Balcomb (who lives on site) and Nan
Hauser/Hoyt Peckham (Center for Cetacean Research and Conservation,
Maine; who flew down on Saturday).
Darlene Ketten (Harvard/WHOI) arrived yesterday to
extract ears from these animals and any others which become available.
Charley Potter (Smithsonian Institution) is also on site.
An aerial survey will attempt to locate other carcasses
Needless to say, there are a lot of unanswered questions
here, and we should be demanding answers ASAP: Did the Navy submit an EA
to NMFS on this exercise? If so, did NMFS comment or simply allow this
to go ahead? Was LFA or other acoustics "experimentation" involved? Does
the Bahamian government have a role in this?
Karen L. Steuer
Director, Commercial Exploitation and Trade Program
International Fund for Animal Welfare
Go on to San Francisco
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