Marine Sanctuary and Whale Habitat is Being Used for Bombing Practice by the Military

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Marine sanctuary along Washington's coast.

The Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary (OCNMS) is a spectacular, dynamic, and largely undeveloped region of coastal Washington State. The region supports large populations of orcas, sea otters, seabirds, salmon, and is an important part of the migration routes of humpback and grey whales.
And it is regularly bombed and mined with explosives by the U.S. military – for practice.

Bombing range overlaps the sanctuary.

The Navy‟s Underwater Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Keyport operates and maintains the [Quinault Underwater Tracking Range] (QUTR) located in Navy Operations Area W-237A.
The Navy has conducted underwater testing at the QUTR since 1981 and maintains a control center at the Kalaloch Ranger Station. This range is instrumented to track and test surface vessels, submarines and various undersea vehicles.
Research work involves testing of equipment and technologies, including mobile targets, torpedoes, underwater mine shapes, and autonomous vehicles.
The Navy has proposed expansion of this range‟s area more than 50-fold to support existing and future needs in manned and unmanned vehicle programs development (U.S. Navy 2010a). The preferred alternative in the final EIS [Environmental Impact Statement] expands this range‟s boundaries to coincide with the existing W-237A Military Warning Area boundary and adds a surf-zone access site at Pacific Beach.
Within this area, the Navy conducts a variety of training activities, including anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, electronic combat, mine warfare, strike warfare, and special forces training.
…To minimize cetacean disturbance, it is the policy of NUWC Division Keyport not to test when cetaceans are known to be present. The Navy was issued a Letter of Authorization under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) for use of sound sources for Keyport activities in May 2011. (Source:  Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary – Final Management Plan and Environmental Assessment )

The concept of designating a sanctuary that allows for some of the worst assaults to living things imaginable is beyond belief.
Habitats that take decades to centuries to become established can be destroyed in seconds. Salmon and rockfish become instant sushi. And the mammals? After struggling to recover following centuries of exploitation, they are devastated by impact explosions and sonic disruption of their hearing apparatus.

L112 with big brother L106 Photo by Ken Balcomb on September 11, 2011

Explosive force killed L-112, and likely her brother as well.

This needs to be stopped – for more information on the specifics of the navy arsenals and marine mammals, please go to the Center for Whale Research website.

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