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From: Sue Arnold <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Scientific forum on fish and fisheries <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Mon, 6 Apr 1998 11:24:53 +1000

text/plain (136 lines)


An urgent issue which needs global attention as it would appear this
technology is not confined to the US and its effects on marine life are
obviously serious.

For in depth information, please contact the writer. Sue Arnold.
Australians for Animals.. see address details below.

Hey there!  Stop Using LFAS Worldwide           Sue Arnold

Unprecedented global outrage and four lawsuits may have convinced the US
Navy to prematurely end its Low Frequency Active Sonar (LFAS) tests in the
waters off the big island of Hawaii according to activists.

Emails, letters, phone calls and faxes of protest have poured into the
office of President Clinton as word of the LFAS tests spread around the
world.  The general public has strongly reacted to the damage inflicted on
cetaceans and other marine creatures.  Hawaiian activists say over half a
million email protests have been generated so far. They say the protest is
growing fast as more people become aware of the tests.

This week, activists and citizens around the world will be asked to sign on
to a letter to all US Senators and Congressmen demanding a Congressional
Hearing into the Navy's LFAS testing worldwide.

Dr Paul Spong, an internationally recognized marine expert, says the effect
of the LFAS tests is to blast incredibly powerful levels of sound at the
marine environment.

" These tests have taken place as the humpback whales interrupt their
migratory route to give birth and breed in the waters of the whale
sanctuary off the Big Island.   New born calves and mothers have been
subjected to incredibly powerful levels of sound that are known to be

"  For years the Navy has been developing a new sonar system designed to
detect quiet submarines.  The system involves projecting low frequency
sound at very powerful levels making sound waves travel over huge distances
in the ocean.  High intensity sound waves are known to be harmful.   In
water, experiments with humans by the US Navy have shown that physiological
damage occurs at a level of 160db resulting in disorientation, memory loss
and seizures.     Tests have been stopped on humans at levels more than
120db.  This level has consistently caused avoidance in baleen whales.

" These tests were designed to take the sound level up as high as 215db,
over 250,000 times the level known to produce physiological damage in

" Aquatic animals are more vulnerable to high sound.  Whales and dolphins
are particularly vulnerable as powerful underwater sounds can harm their
hearing, even damaging the structure of the inner ear.  Sound pressure
waves can cause difficulties in navigation, feeding, and communication.
Even quite weak sounds can stop them feeding and interfere with mating.

" These tests are being carried out at the height of the humpback whale
annual migration.  Whales have travelled 2,500 miles to the protected
waters of Hawaii to give birth, nurse their babies and mate.

" It may well prove impossible to assess the impacts of the tests on
whales.  If they are deafened we will never know.  I am reminded of the
hydrogen bomb tests conducted by the US military at Bikini Atoll.  Such is
the horror of these tests.  Only people can defeat the power of a military
mind which schemes in the dark and cares nothing for the consequences
except the win."

Eyewitness accounts detail episodes of acute distress, death and bizarre
behaviour during the tests. As well -

* A decline in the number of humpback whales off the west coast of Hawaii,
starting at the same time testing began. * An almost total absence of
whales by mid March. * physiological injury to at least one swimmer in the
water who was exposed to a 125 dB broadcast . A doctor's examination
concluded the swimmer had experienced severe trauma. * a baby Humpback
whale separated from the mother whale demonstrated numerous signs of
distress including, * prolonged breaching over a two hour period *
prolonged pectoral slapping and tail slapping over the next two hours *the
baby whale was observed within 100 feet of shore after five hours * whales
swimming at excessive speeds * a pod of dolphins exhibiting behaviours such
as moving close to shore, abnormal levels of vocalization, abnormal time on
the surface. * other reports of abnormal conditions including gatherings of
sharks in areas where they are not normally seen.

No attempt was made by the Navy to warm mariners, divers, dive shop
operators, snorkeling tour operators or the general public about the tests
or their potential to harm humans.

Jay Murray, President of the Society for Ocean Acoustic Research is a
professional scuba diver who was exposed to LFAS tests by the US navy in

" When I first experienced this extremely unusual sound I had just started
to descend with two buddies in the waters just south of Carmel, California.
It was the strangest sound I ever heard.   My lungs vibrated with every
pulse of sound."

As a result of the experience, Murray spent the next three and a half years
investigating the Navy's LFAS testing.   He says the system can transmit up
to and beyond levels of 235 dB.

" There are several other high power sound sources that may be effecting
the Humpback population.  In the North Pacific Ocean there are 2 SOFAR or
RAFOS transducers placed directly between the Hawaiian Islands and the
Aleutian Islands.   There is also 1 SOFAR transducer located approximately
50 south of Midway Island at the west end of the Hawaiian Island chain.

" I have spoken at every public hearing that I could possibly attend to
stop deployment of ocean basin scale sound transmitters.

" The majority of great whales use frequencies below 100 Hz to communicate,
navigate, find prey species, find mates and God knows what else.    The
Navy is currently using 250Hz and a transmit power of 185dB to test
Humpback reactions.

" Please stop the testing and prohibit any deployment of the LFAS system in
Pacific Waters."

The navy has been testing this system since l988 and have conducted around
25 tests in various oceans.    A ship designed to carry the SURTASS LFA
system at a cost of approximately $60,000,000 has been commissioned by the

Evidence from Phase I of the testing off the US west coast shows that
vocalizations of Blue Whales declined 50% and vocalizations of Fin Whales
decreased 30%.  In Greece, strandings of numerous whales caused by LFAS
tests, has been confirmed by scientists.

Sue Arnold, Australians for Animals NSW Inc. PO Box 673, Byron Bay NSw 2481
Australia. Ph: 61 66 843769 Fax: 61 66 843768 email:[log in to unmask]

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