In the Darkened Sea, a Deaf Whale Is a Dead Whale

Is this what it has come to? The most powerful Navy in the world is refusing to protect whales and dolphins during its training and testing operations. Despite all of its resources, innovation, and can-do spirit, the United States Navy says that we must accept the fact that whales, dolphins, and other marine mammals will be harmed 31 million times over the next five years during routine exercises with powerful sonar and explosives in Hawaii, Southern California, the Gulf of Mexico, and along the Atlantic Coast. Must we really accept that nearly 1,000 whales could die and that more than 13,000 will be seriously injured?

Must whales and dolphins be subjected to deafening noise that will cause more than 3.5 million instances of temporary and/or permanent hearing loss? For species that depend on hearing for survival -- to find food, migrate, and communicate -- any hearing loss could be catastrophic. As one scientist noted, a deaf whale is a dead whale.

I reject the Navy's position and urge President Obama as Commander-in-Chief to stop this insanity.

That's why I'm working with the Natural Resources Defense Council to shed light on the carnage about to unfold in our oceans and to amplify the voices of those who believe there is simply no reason for whales to suffer and die during routine training. The Navy has the means to ensure our national security and to protect marine mammals at the same time. The Navy's perpetual excuses of "we're doing enough" and "we couldn't possibly do more" do not make sense.

NRDC has successfully challenged the Navy in court for decades over its ill-conceived plans to turn sensitive parts of our oceans into a free-fire zone, refusing to put vital whale habitat off-limits to sonar testing and explosives. Last month, NRDC filed suit challenging the Navy's planned operations in Southern California and Hawaii, and cited scientific studies -- many of which were funded by the Navy itself -- that link the Navy's activities to the well-being of entire populations of marine wildlife.

In support of this campaign, we've produced the following video. I hope you'll watch it and pass it along to others who care about the fate of these magnificent and sentient beings.

Together we are stronger, our voices louder and the synergy of our actions more powerful. Together we can prevail on the Navy to put commonsense safeguards in place, like requiring its ships to avoid the most sensitive marine mammal habitats and to stop their training exercises during peak migrations.

That's also why we are calling on Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel for help. During his confirmation hearing he stated his guiding principle on decision making: "Is our policy worthy of our troops and their families and the sacrifices we ask them to make?" Further, he said that "we must also be smart, and more importantly wise, in how we employ all of our nation's great power." I couldn't agree more and I believe that if the Secretary of Defense knew the Navy was giving up on whales and dolphins, initiating hundreds of deaths, more than 13,000 serious injuries, and tens of millions of cases of temporary hearing losses and/or harassments -- he'd reject such a shameful and unworthy policy and direct the Navy to do the right thing.

Please join our campaign by sending your own message to Secretary Hagel, and please help us to make certain the Navy puts safeguards in place that will protect whales without compromising military readiness.

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