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  • LFAS.net Low Frequency Active Sonar
    letter Dr Tyack apologizes for allowing a little less than NMFS s six months lead time The letter states that the Azores fieldwork is to begin on July 28 So the actual lead time is just over two months rather than six months Referring to this reduction as a little less than six months is indicative of Dr Tyack s treatment of data to support his position i e an application providing approximately one third the amount of review time requested by the agency is not late The NMFS rejected a Navy application for sonar testing in LWAD 002 in part because the Navy failed to provide sufficient time for review of that application In that case the time provided was something on the order of thirty days The LWAD 002 test however had a very short duration The Tyack permit request is for a five year period The potential impacts of such a long term program of exposure would seem to call for a higher level of scrutiny i e more than the normally requested six month lead time NMFS ultimately issued the permit on August 31 2000 approximately three and a half months after the application The expedited treatment of this long term permit is typical of the cozy relationship between NMFS and the WHOI Navy nexus The issuing officer for NMFS is Eugene Nitta In 1998 Mr Nitta was in charge of enforcing an NMFS permit for SURTASS LFA testing on Humpback Whales off Hawai i That permit required immediate suspension of the testing if an abnormal absence of animals occurred Mr Nitta is the NMFS official who refused to order the testing suspended when numerous whale watch boat captains and shore observers reported that the whales had left the testing area when the broadcasts began Mr Nitta was subsequently promoted to the national NMFS office The Team It appears that Dr Tyack assembled a highly qualified team of researchers in the bioacoustic field Some of these researchers had previous involvement with the SURTASS LFAS SRP The Research The essence of the first phase of the research appears to be tagging animals establishing a base line of animal behavior and then exposing the animals to sounds to determine when avoidance behavior takes place Eighteen different species will be subject to exposures from the playbacks When the tags slough off the animal samples of skin tissue will be attached which will then be analyzed The Playbacks The information about the proposed playbacks is remarkably limited The maximum proposed sound exposure level will be 160 dB p 18 The sound exposure level is presumably what is normally referred to as the received level i e the sound level reaching the target animal as opposed to the sound level at the sound source Received levels will begin at 120 dB and be increased if no disturbance reaction is observed p 18 This initial description of the playbacks contains no information about the frequency level as opposed to the power level p 18 20 The second description of the playbacks also contains no information about the frequency p 24 This discussion does state that playbacks will be targeted at Sperm Whales in the Azores and multiple species in the Ligurian Sea The Ligurian Sea is an arm of the Mediterranean Sea between the islands of Corsica and Elba and the Riviera coasts of northwestern Italy and Monaco The third discussion of playbacks contains no frequency information p 26 This discussion does discuss the rationale for limiting the exposure level to 160 dB in the Ligurian Sea The SACLANT Undersea Research Centre of NATO operates in this sea and has adopted a 160 maximum as the level above which some harm might result and below which there is low risk of harm The WHOI research will test this assumption below 160 There is no basis for assuming that 160 dB is a safe level of exposure for cetaceans Until a NATO LFAS exercise apparently killed numerous whales in the Mediterranean and the Draft EIS justifying deployment of SURTASS LFAS came out the scientific community routinely used 120 dB as the safe level of exposure NATO and the Navy assume a higher level to be safe and reinforce each other The existing evidence does not support raising the safe level from 120 dB SACLANT NATO is the group responsible for studying the strandings of numerous Curvier Beaked Whales coincident with a NATO use of LFAS Based on that experience the effects of low frequency sonar on cetaceans would be the central concern of SACLANT NATO and the 160 dB level would be most relevant to low frequency impacts The Tyack application does not discuss the LFAS connection to SACLANT NATO at this point in the application In avoiding that discussion Dr Tyack avoids explaining that in order to test the SACLANT NATO 160 dB assumption the research will have to use LFAS to be relevant Later in the application Dr Tyack discusses the background and current knowledge relevant to this project p 28 In this section Dr Tyack does note that low frequency sounds are increasingly being broadcast into the marine environment Loud low frequency sound sources are increasingly being employed for long range sonar research and communications He specifically notes the l ow frequency sonars for military use such as the LFAS system used by the NATO SACLANT center and the U S Navy s SURTASS LFAS The background discussion at page 28 is the first time Dr Tyack addresses the low frequency sonar issue While discussing specific power levels of such sound sources Dr Tyack does not address the frequency ranges As Dr Tyack acknowledges the zone of influence of a sound source depends upon its level its frequency spectrum and upon the conditions for sound propagation near the source p 28 In his next discussion of the playbacks Dr Tyack again restricts his discussion to solely the power level of the broadcasts with no information about the frequency levels p

    Original URL path: http://www.lfas.net/ (2016-05-01)
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  • LFAS.net - Navy Cleared To Use A Sonar Despite Fears Of Injuring Whales
    of the Natural Resources Defense Council said his group is actively considering a lawsuit to stop it The NRDC s protests helped stop the Navy s early low frequency sonar experiments and led to the Navy s 1999 request for an exemption from the Marine Mammal Act Jasny yesterday criticized the agency for permitting global use of the system without assessing its potential to kill marine mammals and without providing any effective way of ensuring that none are killed A lawsuit however could also result in congressional action to move ahead anyway The Bush administration has been exploring legislation to make sure that environmental and animal protection rules not be allowed to supersede military preparedness According to Lt Cmdr Pauline Storum the Navy expects to receive its formal permission to begin using the sonar in a month and hopes to deploy the system soon after She said the Navy remains committed to the environmentally responsible deployment of the sonar to balance the national imperatives of military readiness and environmental conservation The new sonar part of the Surveillance Towed Array Sensor System SURTASS would allow the Navy to detect and track quiet submarines which don t create the noise that can be followed through passive sonar and to do it at a much longer range The low frequencies are essential to the system because they travel much farther underwater than the higher frequencies now employed The new sonar system creates a noise roughly equivalent to that of a Boeing 747 engine at takeoff and would clearly injure many marine mammals if they were close by But under the NOAA permit the Navy would use visual sighting and the kind of passive sonar used by commercial fishing fleets to make sure no marine mammals are within the prohibited zone around the noise

    Original URL path: http://www.lfas.net/navyclearedtouseasonar.htm (2016-05-01)
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  • LFAS.net - Can Navy Sonar Hurt Whales?
    showed signs of bleeding around the brain Military officials later acknowledged the most plausible cause for the strandings was midrange tactical sonar operating in the area Though it was midrange and not the new low frequency sonar experts began to look at how resonance affects marine life Resonance basically rips them apart said Bill Rossiter president of Cetacean Society International and an outgoing Center for Coastal Studies director Sonar also could affect the level of nitrogen in the whale s blood causing serious internal injuries according to Sinkin You may or may not see a disruption of behaviors but that does not mean there is no effect said Sharon Young a Cape Cod resident and field director for marine issues for the Humane Society of the United States During testing near Hawaii Sinkin said marine life exhibited several odd behaviors hammerhead sharks schooled dolphins lifted their heads out of the water and backed up toward shore and whales left the areas they typically inhabited In one case a naturalist who had been in the ocean for about 45 minutes of the testing had difficulty walking and blurry vision after emerging from the water Sinkin said With our folks injured and the whales fleeing the test area it became a huge issue Sinkin said Lawsuits challenged Navy Although the Navy had already conducted testing of the new sonar years before military officials agreed to seek a permit from the Fisheries Service after the Natural Resources Defense Council threatened a lawsuit in the mid 1990s Part of the permit application required the Navy to file an environmental impact statement that detailed how the technology would work Environmental groups backed down from their threats once the Navy agreed to test the technology in California and Hawaii The Fisheries Service permit required the Navy to halt testing immediately if whales left the area Sinkin said when he and more than a dozen people reported the odd behaviors during the tests the Navy refused to stop He filed for an injunction to stop the testing By the time it hit court however the Navy had stopped the testing Sinkin is ready to file another lawsuit if the Navy is granted its permit We re awaiting a final decision from the Fisheries Service and if they grant the permit there is almost certainly going to be litigation Sinkin said There are currently no plans to operate LFA sonar ships off California or in areas south of the equator Johnson said The critical habitat area for right whales just off Cape Cod will also be off limits But the Navy s environmental impact statement indicates small percentages of whales in the North Atlantic could be affected by the sonar Environmental exemption sought Meanwhile a bill to exempt the Department of Defense from several environmental laws including the Marine Mammal Protection Act and Endangered Species Act is being discussed on Capitol Hill It s very disturbing said Peter Borelli executive director of the Center for Coastal Studies I

    Original URL path: http://www.lfas.net/cannavysonarhurtwhales.htm (2016-05-01)
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  • US Navy Admits Its Sonar Killed Whales
    s experimental Low Frequency Active Sonar LFAS which has been implicated in other whale strandings was not involved in this incident Instead the whales were injured because the calm water and the underwater topography concentrated sound in the top 200 meters of the ocean just where the whales and dolphins would have been swimming The calm seas did little to stop the reflection and caused fewer air bubbles which dissipate sound energy the report notes On March 15 and 16 2000 nine Cuvier s beaked whales three Blainville s beaked whales two unidentified beaked whales one spotted dolphin and two Minke whales were reported stranded along the Northeast and Northwest Providence Channels on the Bahamian Islands The strandings took place within 24 hours of the intensive use of active midrange sonar by U S Navy ships as they passed through the Northeast and Northwest Providence Channels The Navy says that multiple sonar units were used over an extended period of time Six of the whales died after stranding on beaches One dolphin stranded and died of unrelated causes Ten whales were returned to the sea alive Specimen samples were collected from four dead whales Three of these whales showed signs of bleeding in the inner ears and one whale showed signs of bleeding around the brain Whale biologists determined that the most likely cause of the bleeding was either a blow to the head or exceptionally loud noises The investigation team concludes that tactical mid range frequency sonars aboard U S Navy ships that were in use during the sonar exercise in question were the most plausible source of this acoustic or impulse trauma the report concludes The investigation team recommended that future research focus on identifying where combinations of ocean and undersea conditions might combine to create similar problems

    Original URL path: http://www.lfas.net/usnavyadmitsitssonarkilledwhales.htm (2016-05-01)
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  • Decision Nears On Navy Sonar Are Threat To National Security
    Fisheries Service is expected this fall The Navy contends the sonar is imperative to national security because other nations including Russia Germany and China are already developing super quiet submarines that can avoid traditional detection It says it will protect whales with a 1 100 yard buffer zone backed up with traditional sonar and lookouts to determine the presence of whales Still critics say the risk to whales and other marine life under those guidelines far outweighs any advances in submarine detection Sonar is a very important defense but it s like practicing dropping nuclear bombs it will have a very important environmental impact said Ken Balcomb a marine biologist who witnessed the Bahama stranding in front of his house Whales are more susceptible to sonar interference than many mammals because they rely on sound for communication feeding mating and migration The proposed sonar is a type of low frequency active sonar called the Surveillance Towed Array Sensor System or Surtass LFA The Navy wants to use it on four warships capable of sweeping 80 percent of the world s oceans According to the Navy s proposal the sonar would transmit signals as loud as 215 decibels the underwater equivalent of standing next to a twin engine F 15 fighter jet at takeoff But the Navy contends the loudest noise a whale would encounter is 180 decibels because of the safety zone said Joe Johnson the Navy official in charge of managing the environmental tests The Navy s tests on four species were able to attain only an estimated level of 150 decibels At that level the sonar affected the length of humpback whale songs but didn t lead to other extreme behaviors said Roger Gentry an acoustics expert from the National Marine Fisheries Service But some biologists believe whales

    Original URL path: http://www.lfas.net/decisionnears.htm (2016-05-01)
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  • Navy Claims Environmental Laws Are Threat To National Security
    in its own operations to avoid environmental impacts Instead the documents outline a series of statutory exemptions that the Navy intends to seek from the Endangered Species Act We cannot simply stand by while the military or anyone else attempts to cut and shred the fabric of our nation s environmental laws especially one that was so painstakingly crafted by past generations said Brock Evans a former marine and executive director of the Endangered Species Coalition According to former Air Force Chief of Staff General Thomas D White The mission of the Department of Defense is more than aircraft guns and missiles Part of the defense job is protecting the lands waters timber and wildlife the priceless natural resources that make this great nation of ours worth defending One document lists seven regulatory programs that impact DOD Department of Defense operations training and testing in the marine environment in order of their severity starting with the Marine Mammal Protection Act followed by the Endangered Species Act the National Marine Sanctuaries Act the Coastal Zone Management Act the Magnuson Stevens Act protecting fish habitat and two Clinton Executive Orders on coral reefs and marine protected areas Copies of the Navy documents referenced are available on request Endangered Species Coalition statement on Department of Defense proposed ESA exemptions We are very disturbed to learn about this attempted end run around the Endangered Species Act said Endangered Species Coalition Executive Director and ex marine Brock Evans and we simply cannot stand by while the military or anyone else attempts to cut and shred the fabric of our nation s environmental laws especially one that was so painstakingly crafted by past generations The Endangered Species Coalition cannot accept these exemptions and we will do everything in our power to educate the American people about

    Original URL path: http://www.lfas.net/navyclaimsecolawsarethreat.htm (2016-05-01)
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  • Public Hearings on the Navy's Low Frequency Active (LFA)
    pm to 5 00 pm at the Marriott Waikiki Beach Hotel 2552 Kalakaua Avenue On May 3 there will be a public hearing in Silver Spring Maryland just outside of Washington D C It will take place from 9 00 am to 12 00 noon in the Auditorium of Silver Spring Metro Center Building 4 1301 East West Highway The hearings will begin with a brief presentation from the National Marine Fisheries Service after this members of the public will have the opportunity to speak to raise questions about LFA to articulate your concerns and finally to urge the Fisheries Service to withdraw its proposed rule allowing the Navy to harass injure or kill marine mammals Speakers will probably be limited to 3 5 minutes Making a statement is a fine way of participating in the process but please don t feel you have to speak what is most essential and meaningful is that you attend NRDC will provide more information at least on events in California as the hearing dates draw near I do not need to tell you how important these hearings are They are our signal opportunity to demonstrate the rising level of public concern about this

    Original URL path: http://www.lfas.net/lfashearings.htm (2016-05-01)
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  • Navy Sonar System Threatens Marine Mammals
    the result of a sonic blast And in February 2001 a marine scientist observed that at least one of the whale species that stranded in the Bahamas had virtually disappeared from the area raising questions about impacts well beyond the initial strandings and deaths According to the Navy LFA functions much like a floodlight allowing its operator to peer enormous distances into the ocean in search of enemy submarines Each one of the system s long array of transmitters can generate 215 decibels of sound a level millions of times more intense than is considered safe for human divers after several hundred meters the sound waves produced by the array converge boosting the noise level to an equivalent of more than 240 decibels To understand just how powerful these sounds are keep in mind that the decibel scale used for measuring noise is like the Richter scale used for measuring earthquakes both use small differences to express increasing orders of magnitude Thanks to all these converging sound waves LFA can illuminate hundreds of thousands of square miles of ocean at one time In 1991 for example scientists produced a loud low frequency signal off the coast of Heard Island in the southern Indian Ocean and found that it was still detectable off the West Coast of the United States That signal was effectively 100 times less powerful than LFA s For years the Navy had been testing the LFA system in complete secrecy and in violation of environmental laws In 1995 NRDC brought the sonar tests to light and demanded that the Navy comply with federal and state statutes and disclose how the sonar would affect marine mammals sea turtles and other ocean species As a result the Pentagon agreed to conduct a full scale study of environmental impacts before putting the LFA system into use across an estimated 80 percent of the world s oceans In late January the Navy released its Environmental Impact Statement which according to law should be a rigorous and objective evaluation of environmental risks Yet the Navy s study fails to answer the most basic questions about its controversial system How will LFA affect the long term health and behavior of whales dolphins and hundreds of other species Taking place as it does over an enormous geographic area what effect might it have on marine populations According to the Navy s study scientists briefly exposed a 32 year old Navy diver to LFA sonar at a level of 160 decibels a fraction of the intensity at which the LFA system is designed to operate After 12 minutes the diver experienced severe symptoms including dizziness and drowsiness After being hospitalized he relapsed suffering memory dysfunction and seizure Two years later he was being treated with anti depressant and anti seizure medications Whales use their exquisitely sensitive hearing to follow migratory routes locate one another over great distances find food and care for their young Noise that undermines their ability to hear can threaten their ability

    Original URL path: http://www.lfas.net/mammals.htm (2016-05-01)
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