WASHINGTON (CN) – The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration plans to allow the Navy to add acreage to its sonar research and testing area within its Naval Undersea Warfare Center Keyport Range Complex, in Washington State, which could harass sea mammals.
The agency states that due to its planned mitigation and monitoring regulations, the number of mammals affected is likely to be lower than the Navy’s estimate, and that it expects none of the animals to be killed or injured.
The level of harassment envisioned would include: “disruption of natural behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, surfacing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering, to a point where such behavioral patterns are abandoned or significantly altered.”
NOAA has proposed to allow sea mammals to be harassed the indicated number of times in the next five years: Harbor porpoise 56,415; Northern fur seal 220; California sea lion 570; Northern elephant seal 70; Harbor seal (from inland Washington waters) 27,340; and Harbor seal (from Oregon and Washington Coast) 505. NOAA assumes that all Harbor porpoises exposed to 120 decibels of sound change behavior patterns, whereas a scale can be used to measure the likely harassment to the other marine mammals.