Whales, War Games, and National Security – Whales as Practice Targets?

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In World War II, following the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese, America lurched into protectionist overdrive. Understandably fearful of attack to our west coast cities, people hunkered in their homes at night, blackening the windows lest the Japanese bombers use the lights as guides for attack. Eventually the fear grew to a hysteria that allowed decent people to turn their backs as Japanese-American citizens were marched off to internment camps.
The military response was to take draconian measures to protect our harbors:

When news reached San Francisco of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, all off-duty personnel were recalled to their units and the harbor defenses put on full alert. Soldiers moved out of their barracks and into the batteries, and began filling sandbags, stringing barbed wire and constructing beach defenses at a fevered pace. Up and down the coast, observers in tiny concrete observation posts scanned the horizon for the approach of a Japanese fleet that would never come.
As the days and weeks progressed, the initial fear of imminent invasion settled into a long-term commitment to defend the harbor by every means possible. Mobile antiaircraft guns, searchlights and radars were positioned on virtually every hill and knoll overlooking the Golden Gate. The U.S. Navy stretched an antisubmarine net across the inner harbor extending from the Marina in San Francisco to Sausalito in Marin, and stationed a navy tugboat to open and close the net to allow friendly shipping to pass. Soldiers assigned to the fortifications and observation stations constructed extensive earthwork trenches on the hillsides near their batteries, and in some cases tunneled into hillsides to construct unauthorized but comfortable underground quarters. Everywhere, camouflage paint was daubed on concrete batteries and wood barracks, and acres of camouflage nets were stretched over fortifications to obscure their presence from high flying enemy planes. Overhead, navy blimps armed with depth charges patrolled offshore waters searching for Japanese submarines but only attacked the occasional unfortunate whale.

Again, the last sentence: “Overhead, navy blimps armed with depth charges patrolled offshore waters searching for Japanese submarines but only attacked the occasional unfortunate whale.”
While it may seem that the “occasional unfortunate whale” is an acceptable outcome of military over-zealousness, it was widely believed that the navy used whales as practice targets during WW I and WW II, and the massive detonations of naval warfare must have deafened and killed a multitude of whales and dolphins.
In 1956, the American Navy was sent to destroy the entire population of killer whales in Iceland:

Viewing these events through the lens of history shows us that while threats to security are real, thoughtless overreacting and fear mongering have no place in the modern world. Our fears allow us to be manipulated and controlled – by governments and corporations that reap the benefits of power and money:

Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship. … the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country. – Hermann Göring at the Nuremberg trials, April 18, 1946. (Wikipedia)

The recent death of an endangered Southern Resident killer whale by explosive force has underscored the need to curtail the military exuberance for war games.  It is not known at this point whether the American or Canadian navies were involved for certain, but both regularly discharge explosives and loud sonar in whale habitats.

ACT NOW!  Email kimberly.kler@navy.mil, michael.payne@noaa.gov
With this in the subject lineNEPA scoping comments for Northwest Training and Testing
AND TELL THEM YOUR OPINION!  Midnight, April 27th 2012 is the deadline, but write them even if you miss the date.  Your opinion counts.

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