Whales and dolphins get their day in court

News web pic 2_77.jpg
A group of environmental organisations headed by Earthjustice are sueing the US Navy for continuing to carry out sonar trials which are crippling whales and dolphins.

A lawsuit was filed in Honolulu, Hawaii, on Wednesday, on the basis of evidence in new studies which shows that the use of high power, low frequency sonar can 'kill, injure, or significantly alter the behaviour of whales and dolphins'.

The coalition of groups wants a moratorium on naval sonar exercises off the coast of Hawaii until adequate measures are put in place to protect marine wildlife.

In 2000, a study by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration drew links between the use of anti-submarine sonar and the beaching of 16 whales and two dolphins on the Bahamas coast. Eight of the whales showed signs of bleeding around their brains and ears, which campaigners say is a result of the sonar's volume - equivalent to standing next to a jet fighter at take-off.

A Navy spokesman told ENN that the service was complying with all applicable laws and regulations.

This article first appeared in the Ecologist May 2007