From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 1994:

The U.S. Navy plans to shut down
14 of its 18 Sound Surveillance System
(Sosus) underwater listening posts, perma-
nently disabling much of a $16 billion network
of more than 1,000 microphones linked by
30,000 miles of seabed cables. The Sosus
budget has been cut from $335 million in fis-
cal year 1991 to just $60 million for fiscal year
1995; staffing is to drop from 2,500 in 1993 to
750 in 1996. Set up 40 years ago to monitor
Soviet submarines, the system was used in
1992-1993 to track whale migrations––and
proved sensitive enough to follow one blue
whale for 1,700 miles. Hoping to keep using
Sosus to help check compliance with interna-
tional fishing and whaling treaties, Commerce
Secretary Ron Brown on May 17 asked the
Defense Department to keep what remains of
Sosus intact, pending completion of a joint
study into retaining it via interdepartmental
cost-sharing. However, The New York Times
reported on June 12, a National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration internal memo
indicates NOAA is not willing to contribute to
the upkeep costs.

The U.S. Navy is reportedly also
trying to donate 25 to 30 “excess” dolphins
trained for underwater surveillance to suit-
able marine parks and aquariums, but has
found only four takers. Navy excess dolphin
supervisor Randy Brill says he isn’t opposed to
returning the dolphins to the wild, but is not
convinced that dolphins already returned to the
wild by Ric O’Barry of the Dolphin Project are
truly weaned from human dependency.
The National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration on June 1
returned two female pygmy sperm whales to
the wild near Cape Canaveral, Florida. Both
were rescued after stranding––one along the
New Jersey shore at Thanksgiving 1993 after
ingesting two plastic bags, the other at New
Smyrna Beach, Florida, in April.
Citing recent studies, Alaskan sci-
ence journalist Tim Moffatt charges in the
Summer 1994 edition of Friends of Animals’
magazine Act’ionLine that Steller sea lions and
harbor seals in the Gulf of Alaska “are starving
to death because the pollack are disappearing
into the insatiable maw of the bottomfish
industry, which “grew out of the 1980
Magnusen Act and its goal of Americanizing
the U.S. bottom-fishery.” The bottom-fishers
pull out 100,000 tons of pollack a week. The
Gulf of Alaska sea lion and seal populations
are down 90% in 40 years. “In southeastern
Alaska, where such fishing does not occur,”
Moffatt notes, “the seals and sea lions exist in
stable numbers.” (Join FoA, $10/year, at 777
Post Rd., Darien, CT 06820.)
Brazilian pharmacies stock a salve
made from the blubber of the Amazon man-
a t e e, according to Daniel Vairo of Sea
Shepherd Amazonia. Says the label, “These
animals similar to seals were recently consid-
ered rare because of the pursuit of Indians,”
who harpoon them. “This is a product of
Mother Earth.” The First Quarter 1994 edition
of the Sea Shepherd Log also carried a report
by David Smith of Earthwatch on a
Valentine’s Day 1994 massacre of thousands
of sharks and manta rays by illegal gill netters
near San Benedicto Island in the Sea of Cortez,
Mexico. (Join the Sea Shepherd Conservation
Society, $25/year, at 1314 2nd St., Santa
Monica, CA 90401.)
The Chicago Animal Rights
Coalition wants to blitz Shedd Aquarium
handling of marine mammals with a radio
offensive––but stations that run ads for the
Shedd have refused to sell CHARC any air
time. According to CHARC, the Shedd has
rehired head trainer Ken Ramirez, six months
after he “went with a female trainer to French
Polynesia to work on a dolphin swim pro-
gram,” under Jay Sweeney, DVM, now a
fulltime cetacean catcher, who lost his Florida
veterinary license in 1990 for breaking state
laws while capturing dolphins for the National
Aquarium in Baltimore. “In the Polynesian
project,” a CHARC online bulletin charged,
“Ramirez and Sweeney worked with a number
of recently captured dolphins, most of whom
had to be released because they were not
adapting to captivity.” Of three animals kept,
two died. Ramirez will apparently now train
three Pacific whitesided dolphins caught by
the Shedd off San Diego last November.
The National Marine Fisheries
Service is baffled by the death of 250,000 fish
along the Texas coast near Galveston in mid-
May––and is probing why 229 dead sea turtles
washed ashore during the first five months of
1994, up from 176 in all of 1991 and 160 in
1992. Mass dolphin deaths in March are
blamed on an outbreak of morbilli virus, a dis-
ease specific to dolphins. An algal bloom
killed 22 million fish in the same area in 1986,
but no such bloom has been found this time.
Trying to make jobs, indigenous
residents of the north coast of British
Columbia are planning the first commercial
seal hunt in the Skeena River estuary in circa
30 years. Protest to Brian Tobin, Fisheries
Minister, 200 Kent St., Ottawa, Ontario K1A
0E6, Canada.
The American SPCA asks that let-
ters opposing the proposed resumption of
seal hunting in Finland be addressed to
Seppo Havu, Dept. of Game and Fisheries,
Ministry of Forests and Agriculture,
Hallittuskatru 3 00170, Helsinki, Finland.
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