Navy exoneration in 'eco-crime'?

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals today suspended an injunction that prevented the Navy from employing advanced sonar. While not noted in this San Francisco Chronicle article, this case grew from concern over the fact that pods of pilot whales beach themselves from time-to-time. 

This suicidal cetacean behavior is heartrending and inexplicable to the experts. Media reports of these events are typically accompanied by an environmentalist’s claim that somehow mankind is to blame.  The prevailing theory is that the US Navy has employed powerful sonar somewhere nearby resulting in disorientation to the whales’ sense of echolocation.


Coincidentally, I happen to be reading Eric Jay Dolin’s new book Leviathan–The History of Whaling in America (W.W. Norton, New York 2007) This book contradicts this sonar theory, reporting, “For centuries humans have been baffled by pilot whales periodically stranding themselves on beaches” (pg 34). 

He records that within days of their arrival on the Mayflower, the Pilgrims discovered four or five pilot whales beached on the north shore of Cape Cod
.  The book includes many photographs including one entitled “Beached pilot whales at Jetties Beach, Nantucket 1918” reproduced courtesy of the Nantucket Historical Association.  Scores of beached pilot whales are visible in the photograph. World War II marked the advent of sonar.


 
Keep this in mind the next time an environmentalist blames America first for Mother Nature’s heartless behavior.


The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals today suspended an injunction that prevented the Navy from employing advanced sonar. While not noted in this San Francisco Chronicle article, this case grew from concern over the fact that pods of pilot whales beach themselves from time-to-time. 

This suicidal cetacean behavior is heartrending and inexplicable to the experts. Media reports of these events are typically accompanied by an environmentalist’s claim that somehow mankind is to blame.  The prevailing theory is that the US Navy has employed powerful sonar somewhere nearby resulting in disorientation to the whales’ sense of echolocation.


Coincidentally, I happen to be reading Eric Jay Dolin’s new book Leviathan–The History of Whaling in America (W.W. Norton, New York 2007) This book contradicts this sonar theory, reporting, “For centuries humans have been baffled by pilot whales periodically stranding themselves on beaches” (pg 34). 

He records that within days of their arrival on the Mayflower, the Pilgrims discovered four or five pilot whales beached on the north shore of Cape Cod
.  The book includes many photographs including one entitled “Beached pilot whales at Jetties Beach, Nantucket 1918” reproduced courtesy of the Nantucket Historical Association.  Scores of beached pilot whales are visible in the photograph. World War II marked the advent of sonar.


 
Keep this in mind the next time an environmentalist blames America first for Mother Nature’s heartless behavior.