Court Protects Whales in Navy Sonar Ruling

Animal and environmental groups’ successful lawsuit represents a big win for marine mammals.


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A federal appeals court has ruled that the United States Navy’s use of high-intensity, low-frequency sonar as a submarine detection method was illegally approved by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) because of the devastating impact it has on whales and other marine mammals. The ruling came in response to a lawsuit filed by animal and environmental protection groups, including The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). According to HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle, “The court held that NMFS shirked its legal duty to properly mitigate these harmful impacts,” which include “persistent and punishing sounds” that disrupt marine mammals’ ability to navigate, communicate, forage for food, and reproduce. The underwater noise can be so loud that whales sometimes beach themselves to escape the aural pain.

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