Marine mammals

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, December 1995:

A dead humpback whale discovered off
San Francisco on November 3 and two more
found floating near the Farallon Islands o n
November 9 brought an early halt to the controversial
Scripps Institution of Oceanography experiment
in using low-frequency sound to measure ocean
temperature and, thereby, global warming. The
$35 million Accoustic Tomography of Ocean
Climate experiment wasn’t to begin until November
8, amid precautions to monitor the effect on marine
life including transmitter-equipped elephant seals, a
sonar assessment of krill movements, and four
whale-spotters in aircraft. However, the Scripps
team turned on the ATOC sonic equipment 13 times
in preliminary tests between October 28 and
November 4, violating the protocol reached earlier
with wildlife protection groups who sued to stop the
project, arguing that the sound waves would deafen
whales and seals. At deadline the National Marine
Fisheries Service was still trying to determine
whether ATOC had anything to do with the whale
deaths, which could also have been caused by a
toxic algal bloom reported circa Halloween by
recreational divers. Alarmed by the whale deaths,


the Hawaii State Board of Land and Natural
Resources will hold a public hearing in January on
the Hawaiian phase of ATOC.
EXXON on October 18 agreed to monitor
the effects on 25 marine mammal species of a
45-day seismic survey off the California coast.
The survey will use air guns to generate shock
waves enabling scientists to map seabed substrata.
A University of California at Santa
Cruz team reported in the November edition of
Marine Pollution Bulletin that California sea lions’
bodies now contain less than 1% of the DDT that
they did in 1970. DDT was banned from most uses
in 1975; from then to 1993, the California sea lion
population grew 133%, However, a study by Earth
Island Institute and California State University at
San Francisco reported just a month earlier that
PCB residues in San Francisco Bay harbor seals
have increased to twice the level known to harm
immune and reproduction systems.
Japan in October unveiled a satellite
system for tracking blue whales, to be deployed
in 1997to see if the highly endangered whales have
recovered enough to resume killing them. The
whales will carry football-sized transmitters, to be
injected by harpoon. The five-vessel Japanese
whaling fleet meanwhile sailed November 2 to kill
400 minke whales, also in the name of research,

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