image by Alessio Marrucci; GNU FDL
Earlier this month, a district judge ruled that the Navy had to stop using powerful sonar in training missions in Southern California waters unless the Navy used the sonar more than 12 miles off the coast and adopted other measures to lessen the effect on whales and dolphins. The powerful sonar blasts used by the Navy were deafening whales and dolphins, resulting in the animals losing the ability to navigate, ending up beached, and death:
In her rulings, [Judge] Cooper has said she tried to balance national security needs with environmental protections -- specifically those to prevent unnecessary harm to whales and dolphins from mid-frequency active sonar. That's the type the Navy uses to detect quiet diesel-electric submarines.LAT.
She has cited scientific studies linking U.S. and NATO warships' use of sonar to the deaths and injuries of beaked whales and other marine mammals. She also has reiterated the Navy's own predictions that the upcoming exercises off Southern California "will cause widespread harm to nearly 30 species of marine mammals."
In response to the Judge's ruling, President Bush decided to step in and offer some kind of "waiver" to the Navy; it's unclear whether he has any grounds to do this.
Meanwhile, some of you may wonder what it is that these sonar blasts into the oceans are for; they're to help protect us from quiet diesel-electric submarines off our shores sent there by all those countries that want to attack us and start a war with the United States.