Whales and dolphins are getting some long sought peace and quiet from the U.S. Navy.
The service has agreed to stop using certain types of sonar—or sound waves—believed to harm the marine mammals after signing a deal with several environmental groups that have been fighting the practice in court for ten years.
Conservationists have argued that the sonar waves disrupt the marine animals’ feeding patterns, and can even cause deafness. They also blame the practice for causing whales to beach themselves as they try to escape the sound.
The agreement will create safe havens for the mammals between California and Hawaii, locations where the Navy will not use mid-frequency sonar and refrain from conducting explosives training.
In addition, the Navy will no longer use sonar in habitat and feeding areas and reduce the number of training exercises that take place in the region.
The government’s National Marine Fisheries Service will also keep an eye on ocean mammals to determine if there are any negative effects that result from the exercises that are still being performed in the area.
Navy spokesman Lieutenant Commander Matt Knight said the agreement will not affect readiness and the military “will continue to be good environmental stewards” under the deal.
(READ more at BBC News) — Photo: Center for Whale Research, Released
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