Sonar Causes Brain Injury to Sea Mammals
I need to explain my experience and express my sadness for the whales, dolphins and all sea mammals living in the waters of Southern California. I am a kayaker and in November 2014, I went on a paddle with two fellow sea-kayakers. We put-in at La Jolla Shores and paddled out past the caves. A whale surfaced about 30 feet from my boat. It was a baby. It was alone. It swam right up next to my boat. I could see the barnacles on it’s back. She (or he) stayed relatively close, giving us some time to admire her. Yet her mother was nowhere around. What could cause a mother whale to separate from her young?
This is not new news - Sonar has been used in California waters by the Navy, for quite some time. I recently found out that most, if not all Navy ships have sonar-firing capabilities! Sonar uses very powerful sound waves that can damage whale and dolphin hearing. I want to explain to you a little about brain injury, because this is my field (www.graymatters4u.com). Whale and dolphins being injured by sonar can be better understood, when compared to soldiers’ blast brain injuries. Sonar has caused whales to hemorrhage (i.e. to bleed) around the ears. These animals survive largely by their sense of hearing; when their hearing goes, they are mortally disabled. I feel an ache in my heart for their disability. Through their sense of hearing being blasted by sonar, I feel that their very sense of survival is threatened; mothers get separated from their babes!
I am sharing this because San Diego needs to know about the condition of the ocean environment in which our neighbors - the sea mammals exist. Many of them are traumatized by noise pollution underwater. I looked at that baby whale with no mom’s love or support and I felt what he was going through. He was fully disoriented. I have seen people disoriented from a brain injury. I know what they go through. I have experienced it myself. When the baby whale went underwater, we paddled on for about half an hour around the cove and then paddled back (one hour total) and when we returned, the whale was still there! It was still alone and notably DISORIENTED!!!
I am writing to advocate for the whales and dolphins. I hope to educate about what they are going through and perhaps motivate change for them. For more information about noise pollution and its impact under water, see http://ocr.org/.
The Ocean Matters!