Monday, Nov. 03, 2008

Whales lose Supreme Court case

In November the Supreme Court shocked no one with a ruling that national security takes precedence over wildlife protection. The decision lightened restrictions — levied by a federal judge in Los Angeles — on the use of sonar during Navy training exercises. Studies have shown that sonar pulses damage the hearing organs of whales and dolphins and can also hinder their ability to mate, find food and navigate. Some sonar pulses appear to have caused whales to strand themselves on shore, with necropsies finding signs of internal bleeding near their ears. While the Navy — which says its voluntary safeguards protect marine mammals by reducing sonar when whales or dolphins are spotted nearby — won the right to continue its training off the Southern California coast, environmentalists claimed a partial victory since the ruling did not exempt the Navy from having to prepare an environmental impact report for future exercises.