Putting conspiracy to bed for Cape Cod's stranded dolphins, it wasnt U.S. Navy SONAR

The paths of six dolphins tracked using special satellite tags attached to dolphins released by the IFAW MMRR team.Last week, I participated in a conference call with the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The United States Navy and NOAA have an ongoing operational plan that monitors for any stranding events that may be related to naval activities. 

Throughout this event we have asked NOAA about the status of any planned exercises by the US Navy. They have regular meetings and detailed protocols with the US Navy for monitoring actions along the east coast of the US. 

The Navy has not conducted a major training exercise in the Northeast US within the last 24 months.  Currently there is only one active area of the Mid-Atlantic coast and according to both parties; Operation Bold Alligator 12, did not involve active sonar. 

This was an amphibious training exercise that would not have affected animals in Cape Cod Bay. There was also a COMPTUEX training that occurred off the coast of North Carolina through Florida from January 11 - February 12, 2012, again far away from Cape Cod’s shores. 

The fact is we know there has been no naval sonar activity in our region within a proximity affecting the coast of Massachusetts and these particular animals. Again, the acknowledged Mid-Atlantic activity is simply too far away to drive these dolphins to strand. 

Also, if we approach this logically: if activity off the mid-Atlantic were causing this event, we would also see similar mass strandings stretching along the coastline between here and there.  But, we are not.  I have spoken with other stranding network members, and no else is seeing above average numbers of common dolphin strandings.

We are seeking information on any other industrial activities off the coast of Massachusetts during this period, but given the inhospitable nature of the North Atlantic in winter, we don’t expect there is much going on.  Furthermore, there is nothing so far in our examinations of the deceased dolphins that is consistent with evidence of acoustic trauma.

Many lab results are still pending, and we are just now beginning to really analyze our data as the stranding event seems to be slowing down (hopefully ending!).

Stay tuned as we continue to rule things out and continue the hunt for possible scientific causes.

--KM

Comments: 10

 
Anonymous
2 years ago

Katie.

Any chance that beaching of whales and dolphins is a result of massive solar flares disrupting their magnetic compass? There seemed to be several occurrences recently that coincided with extreme solar activity? This could be a traceable event

Patrick Sowers

 
Anonymous
2 years ago

Interesting that paths of dolphin are shown in shallower waters where massive acidification of ocean water is most evident. We should care about more than impact on food supplies in oceans!
http://thinkprogress.org/romm/2012/03/02/436193/science-ocean-acidifying...
Please support renewable energy today to arrest the rising carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels.

 
Anonymous
2 years ago

wow i would love to donate but i dont have money :0

 
Anonymous
2 years ago

Katie Moore is it true that you are government funded and if that is so do you find there might be a conflict of interest? In addition, We find it interesting that you omitted Comptuex JTFEX sonar training that began on January 12, 2012 in the "Atlantic". You may convince some this is "natural" but true non profits are not buying government tainted explanations.

 
Anonymous
2 years ago

Katie I sent an email to you to which you never responded, but I too would like to put this issue to bed and if you and those that fund your organization directly and indirectly i.e. NOAA and the US Navy would provide skeptics such as myself a map showing the exact location of all ships operating in the North Atlantic during the month of Jan., particularly those included in COMPTUEX JTFG, that could go a long way toward solving this mystery..
In identifying those ships it would be of additional benefit to include the other nations' naval forces most likely present during that same time frame.
Further it would be appropriate to release information from the necropsies performed which included the sinus areas including but not limited to the following: dolphin nasal apparatus, blowhole, phonic lips, nasal and pharyngeal airways. Included the vestibular and spiracular portions of the nasal air sac system; both bony nasal passages and the openings to the pharyngotympanic tubes (Eustachian tubes); the nasopharyngeal cavities in the basicranial space; the lumen of the larynx; and the pharynx itself.
It is my belief if these two major issues are addressed much of the adverse criticism will be substantially reduced.

 
Anonymous
2 years ago

Please don't blithely dismiss people's concerns about the Navy's use of active sonar by using the word "conspiracy". Although I respect the fact that you were a leader in this recent stranding case and I admire the work of your organization, the fact is that the effects of LFAS and MFAS on most species of cetaceans are largely unknown. What we do know is that small cetaceans will react to active sonar (Haro Strait 2003), but the Navy has a long history of not being forthright with the public, and NOAA is arm in arm with the Navy.
Thanks to the work of a few brave and knowledgeable individuals and organizations, the public would not only continue to be in the dark about the Navy's use of active sonar in its training ranges (dating back at least 60 years), but would continue to be left out of the legal and public commenting process. Let them question without being ridiculed.

 
Anonymous
2 years ago

Thank you Katie. As you are aware, we have only had 2 dolphins on Nantucket beaches (that I am aware of). So, nothing out of the ordinary. Best wishes to you and the team -- we all hope it is "ending."

 
Anonymous
2 years ago

Have you made contact with people involved with mass strandings of pilot whales in New Zealand?

 
Anonymous
2 years ago

To find the answer to the dolphin die off, you need to investigate oil industry activities off the coast of Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and West Greenland.

Capt. David Williams
http://www.deafwhale.com/

 
Anonymous
2 years ago

Thank you for the informative and interesting post, Katie. As you might expect, I am very often asked about the role of active Navy SONAR in recent dolphin strandings on Cape Cod. Your piece helps succinctly explain the lack of correlation between these events. It's human nature to look for over-simplified solutions to very complex problems, while ignoring the fact that Cape Cod ranks third among stranding "hotspots" worldwide, and that strandings have been known to occur for thousands of years. Still, the confounding variables of complex environmental conditions in that area, anthropogenic influences, and issues related to the animals themselves (social cohesion, physiology, pathogens, etc.) make it extremely difficult to point to a cause-effect relationship. People have such a high affinity for these animals and so desperately want an answer - and perhaps a scapegoat - as to why this unfortunate phenomenon continues to occur. Thank you for posting this piece, Katie. I have posted it to the American Cetacean Society's Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/AmericanCetaceanSociety) and Twitter feed (@CetaceanSociety).

Cheryl McCormick
American Cetacean Society

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