The Navy said in a report on Friday that training and testing for new underwater explosives could kill hundreds of whales and dolphins, and injure tens of thousands more, in the coming five years.
The training is set for ocean waters off the East Coast, the Gulf of Mexico and Southern California and Hawaii, and is planned from 2014 to 2019, The Associated Press reported.
But two environmental impact studies that were just released say the testing is bad news for dolphins. Hundreds are likely to die from the explosives. Others could be injured in collisions with ships, AP reported.
Still, the testing must go forth, said Rear Adm. Kevin Slates, the Navy’s energy and environmental readiness division director.
“Without this realistic testing and training, our sailors can’t develop or maintain the critical skills they need or ensure the new technologies can be operated effectively,” he said, in a conference call with reporters earlier this week.
The reports cite computer modeling that indicates 186 whales and dolphins off the East Coast could be killed, and another 155 off the coast of Hawaii and Southern California, AP said.
The injury estimates are even higher.
The report says that off the East Coast, 11,267 sea mammals could suffer serious injuries, and another 1.89 million could have minor injuries, like hearing loss. Off Hawaii and Southern California, 2,039 dolphins and whales may suffer serious injuries, and 1.86 million temporary injuries. Moreover, the testing could dramatically alter the behavior and swimming patterns of millions, AP said.
Twenty million dolphins and whales off the East Coast could change their behavior, as a direct result of the Navy testing. Meanwhile, 7.7 million off the coasts of Hawaii and Southern California could do the same.