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22 March 2000 Issue
Beware, The Beached Canaries* 

by Bobbie Sandoz, MSW - BSANDOZ@aol.com 

(*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 cover-up....or both?

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 uncaring species?

**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 classified use.

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 areas?

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 exposure.

* 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 LFAS.

* 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 powerful force.

***For More Information and Evidence of LFAS Problems,

*GENERAL INFORMATION:

http://www.angelfire.com/ca/fishattorney/lfaslinks.html

http://www.oceanmammalinst.com; and

http://www.nrdc.org

*LEGAL INFORMATION AND CURRENT LAWSUIT AGAINST THE US NAVY:

http://www.ilhawaii.net/~light/lfaindex.html 

*TECHNICAL INFORMATION:

http://home1.gte.net/leetpley/lfasupdate.htm 

*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) 610-670-7386

Lanny Sinkin (Attorney) 808-961-9100

Dr. Lee Tepley (Physicist) 650-961-7440

Dr. Linda Weilgart (Independent Marine Biologist) 902-479-1861

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 issue deserves.

*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 power.

*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 - Author/Therapist/Columnist/Speaker

March, 2000

Phone: 808-524-6775 Fax: 808-538-0423

Website: www.bobbiesandoz.com 

UPDATE:

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 today.

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

<KSteuer@ifaw.org>

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