WASHINGTON (CN) – The National Marine Fisheries Service has authorized the armed services to injure or kill up to 10 beaked whales during training exercises in the Mariana Islands in the next 5 years.
The agency also has authorized the injury of individuals of 26 additional species during the same period.
Beaked whales are the deepest diving whales, and have been known to plunge nearly 2,000 meters deep. To reach such depths and survive without getting the bends, the whales must surface slowly and have been observed taking 80 minutes to resurface after a particularly deep dive.
The intense sonar used by military naval vessels has a devastating impact on diving whales and studies show that beaked whales washed ashore dead just four hours after military maneuvers in the Canary Islands appear to have died of the bends, indicating that the sonar interferes with the whale’s diving and causes them to rise to the surface too quickly, according to the Beaked Whale Resource Web site.
The Navy has promised to attempt to mitigate the impact of maneuvers on beaked whales and other marine mammals in the Mariana Islands testing range by requiring vessels to keep at least 1,500 feet away from any observed whale in the vessel’s path and to avoid approaching the mammals head-on.