TIME RUNNING OUT FOR PACIFIC WHALES
NAVY WAR EXERCISES
THREATEN MARINE MAMMALS
BRIEF PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD TO EXPIRE SOON
Pacific Coast, May 2, 2006
Geof Bard Reports
The whales were here first.
They rode the Pacific current long before the first woman stood
erect on the continent of Europe.
We are the newcomers, mere carpet baggers on their earth. Yet the
common bond of brotherhood/sisterhood runs through our veins: we are
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Whales got hair. Like humans.
No crusty reptiles. No slimy amphibians, smelly fish or crabby
insects, these sports.
The whales are as much our brothers and sisters as the cute little
kittens we adore, the rough and tumble labrador retrievers we take
out in the park, those magnificent horses we love to ride, or those
marvelous lions that roam our mountains.
But we are failing our mammalian kinfolk, as their herds are
increasingly jeopardized by illegal fishing combines from Japan,
other pirate capitalisms, and the military paraphernalia that is
filling the earth, the skies, and the seas.
The Boys with Their Toys
Sonar sounds like fun- no pun intended. For us, it seems to be a
high tech amusement. But for whales, it spells death.
Remember playing battleship with Dad?
6C You sink the sub!
The stuff of good childhood memories. Sink the Sub, we called it,
but, as Stephanie Miller makes apparent, other kids called it
A harmless pastime, right?
A Game of Death
Not right. Real sonar is no game It is a deadly battle with high
stakes. Picture Gene Hackett and Denzel Washington. Nazi sea wolfs
and Russian sailors. Ping ping death from above. Where there is
sonar, there are depth charges, torpedoes, and the long arm of the
Propaganda to the contrary, environmentalists and champions of
wildlife do not make light of military priorities.
According to the Defense Department, Iran and China are poised to
deploy, or already are deploying, ultra quiet deisel submarines that
can possibly sneak past traditional defenses designed to detect
noisier Cold War era nucleur subs. So, they claim, they need to
polish up their anti-sub technology in the channels of the Hawaiin
Islands, which are similar to those of the strategically important
Straits of Hormuz.
The only problem is that the ping ping pinging of sonar off the
rocky sea bottom is like the shrieking demons of hell, as far as
whales are concerned. Disoriented, confused and frightened, they
can't but flee the hellish cacophonies generated by these war toys.
And, as often as not, they end up pinioned in some barren cove,
stranded away from the gentle currents they call home. There, lacking
intervention by the tireless heroes of the deep ecology movement,
animal rescuers, they would perish.
The Navy dismisses the clear and convincing evidence that these
military exercises harm marine mammals with a cavalier denial of the
obvious. “There is no evidence of sonar causing harm...”
says Lt. William Marks. But then how does he account for the fully
documented stranding of 150 melon heads off the island of Kauai in
2004? Last week NOAA released a report which linked this tragic event
to Navy sonar testing, and there is no other credible explanation. \
According to Veterinarian Teri Rowles, “we can find no other
cause for this event”. What part of that does the Navy not
American Patriots Defend Her Wildlife
No one wants our ships to be at the mercy of Beijing directed
submarines. No one wants the US Navy to be handicapped in defense of
its ships. But that does not mean we can turn the oceans into a
barren, lifeless poisoned lake where its rich wildlife becomes a
relic of a living past. The destruction of the living ocean would
represent not just a lost war but a lost planet.
A limited advantage in one specific skirmish could mean a lot to
the seamen affected. There is no minimizing the distinct possibility
that a well seeded tried and tested submarine detection technology is
a valuable asset to the Navy. My father was a navigator and
meterologist for the US Navy during the Korean War, and my ancestors
have served in the Dutch navy for centuries. As the scion of a
seafaring tribe, I would not disrespect my ancestral traditions by in
any manner undercutting legitimate maritime concerns.
But all people of the sea, whose blood runs in my veins, hold the
ancient great mammals in the highest reverence. Luietenant Mark's
disingenous mumbling does not speak for sailors anymore than my
words. But the melodious song of the whale speaks in accents and
dialects which supercede the blitherings of even the most nautical
Ahab. There is no marine soul who can speak against the ancient right
of the whale to ride the waves, and any one who would call themselves
any kind of sailor would have to concede that no sailor worth his
salt would abide in the extinction of the most ancient seafaring
tribe of them all, the cetaceans.
The National Resources Defense Council, a highly reputable
organization with whom I trained during my law school days, has take
a position of leadership on this issue. Readers would do well to
google their way onto their website, find their action alerts, and
get some commentary in to NOAA before the expiration of the narrow
public comment window.
As for any sailor who thinks that “save the whale
eco-freaks” are somehow at odds with their bona fide interests
in training to meet the threat of Soviet submarines, I suggest they
ponder long and hard whether they are men of the sea first, or nine
to fivers. Because when it gets down to it, the excuse :I was only
following orders” makes as little sense as a defense to ecocide
or cetacide as it does to Nazi genocide.
We would have to ask ourselves what kind of admirals are running
the show if if are so scared of Beijing's submarines that we can't
train our defense forces without wiping out whole tribes of
I don't think that things are so bad that we need to be unduly
frightened of submarines Made In China. Hawaii is still Hawaii, the
sea is still the sea, and the channels of Hawaii are an ancient,
sacred gathering place for the whale herds, a consecrated ground we
should disturb no more than we would disturb Gettysburg or Harpers
This report is substantially based on the research of TONY PERRY
as reported in the LA Times, an excellent newspaper which is
currently jeopardized by cutbacks implemented by its new corporate
owners based in Chicago. This writer encourages IMC readers to
support conscientious mainstream journalists in this time, when
corporate mergers threaten editorial and journalistic independence.
GEOF BARD, while living in Florida, was a close follower of the
dispute between the Makah Tribe and Skipper Paul Watson, regarding
the issuance of a Federal whale hunt permit to the tribe. Geof
started out leaning toward the whale protection side in his capacity
of list serv administrator of A1AEarthFirst, which formed at the time
of the WTO demonstrations and the birth of Indymedia. However, it
soon became apparent that, although there were some ethically
questionable tactics being employed by certain indigenous rights
proponents, there was a serious lack of cultural sensitivity and
humility on the part of the animal protectionists, as well as
extremist tendencies on both sides of the issue, which were exploited
by parties with no respect for either whales or Indians. After
swimming with wild dolphins and tiger sharks in Atlantic, Geof moved
back to the West Coast and prayed with Makah leadership, subequently
learning more of the difficult balance between indigenouis rights and
wildlife protection. He recommends the movie Whale Rider as a good
introduction to the whole issue.
Please: don't just sit there! Get your comments in to the US Navy
while the public comment period is still open.