The balance of sharing this planet…

The United States of America is mostly concerned with protecting freedom and equipping its military with the best defense mechanisms possible. This need to want to protect and defend can come at a cost to helpless marine mammals. This is seen in the heavy use of sonar by navy vessels. One case in particular was in the Bahamas where within 36 hours of testing 17 animals including 14 beaked whales were stranded on the beach. The use of sonar does not directly cause these whales to strand themselves, nor does the use of sonar cause a whale to beach every time. This sonar does however indirectly disrupt them, by causing confusion. It is believed that the sonar may imitate the sound of beaked whale’s predators causing confusion in the whales. This poses a problem because when these animals dive they collapse their lungs preventing them from getting the “bends”. This collapse of their lungs prevents Nitrogen from entering their bloodstream. This confusion from sonar possibly causes the whales to swim in irregular fashion diving just below and above the level at which their lungs collapse to avoid predators, causing them to get decompression sickness. In the decision to use sonar and protect the crew from any objects in the water or protect marine life, marine life will always lose. As a sailor I know the importance of safety and that the lives of thousands of my fellow sailors are on the line. As an aspiring marine conservationist I understand the need to protect both my fellow shipmates and the marine life. As humans we have the ability to destroy this planet, but as the most intellectually evolved species we must protect it. Finding alternative technologies and paying close attention to our impact on the planet is key because the planet does not need us to survive, we need it.

- Charlene Vasquez

Reference:<o:p></o:p>

Nevala, A.E., 2008. The Sounds of Sonar and the Fury about Whale Strandings. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Oceanus Magazine. http://www.whoi.edu/oceanus/viewArticle.do?id=37146<o:p></o:p>

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