Low Frequency LFAS and SURTASS SonarSystems: a quick impact assessment
(c) Stefan Thiesen, Ph.D. April 26, 2001 The US NAVY currently seeks permission for the upcoming operationalphase of their high-power and low-frequency LFAS and SURTASS SonarSystems. The NAVY EIA statements are flawed and more reminiscent of marketing statements than of objective scientific analysis. The issue is of international concern since the sonar-waves will travel toEEZs of many other nations and severely effect local marine life. Largescale application of this devastating technology is likely to result ininternational diplomatic problems as well - in addition to theenvironmental damages.Independent scientific appraisals show the following (as published, forexample, in "Geographical", February 2001, which is the magazine of theRoyal Geographical Society, London; author was Simon Reeve):•SCUBA-Divers suffer lung-vibration, disorientation, memory loss andseizures•Marine Mammals move into shallow surf-zone to avoid noise - someare stranded on beaches•Studies show that whales begin to avoid noise at 110 dB (the testedsonar systems produce sound energies of 150-160 dB in distances of 100miles and more)•Humpback, blue and fin whales show a decrease in vocalizations,which could effect reproduction rates•The noise interferes with the crucial mother-calf bond of whales -some calves have seen to be abandoned during earlier low-frequencysonar tests.•Whales have been observed to react with frantic behavior andexcessive breaching and fin-splashing during LF-sonar tests.•Other effects include disruption of feeding, breeding, acousticcommunication, nursing and sonar-navigation of whales.•Whales are forced to alter migration routes in order to avoid thesound, which may lead to significant alterations of marine ecosystems•Temporary or permanent hearing loss or impairment can occur,which is lethal for whales.•Death from lung-hemorrhage or other tissue trauma is possible.