Target: Jolie Harrison, Chief of Permits and Conservation, National Marine Fisheries Services
Goal: Protect marine mammals from exposure to deafening missile tests.
The U.S. Air Force announced a plan to increase weapons testing north of Kauai at the Pacific Missile Range Facility, a move which would endanger local marine mammal populations. This proposal was announced even though research the Air Force conducted itself indicated that whales could be permanently deafened by the tests. This request now resides with the National Marine Fisheries Service to accept or decline.
There are 16 species of whales and dolphins which could be impacted by the decision to increase missile tests. There are a number of unique, local populations which call the waters around the Pacific Missile Range Facility home that could disappear forever if their breeding and feeding grounds are threatened. Marine biologists warn that certain whale species, particularly humpback whales and sperm whales, are particularly reliant on their hearing for feeding or for socialization, and that their behaviors and migration patterns could be disrupted by the loud missile tests. Whales deafened by missile tests would be at risk from dying as a result of starvation or separation from their pods.
Given the Air Force’s own statistics cited in their research, nearly 400 whales and dolphins could suffer some degree of hearing loss, with their own estimate of over 30 of those permanently being affected. While they claim that the tests should not be fatal to cetaceans, it is likely that whales that cannot hear will not be able to feed normally and may become disoriented. Furthermore, the stress of the testing may have as-of-yet unknown effects on whale and dolphin populations, who might abandon the area if they feel threatened. Marine mammals are a vital part of the ocean ecosystem and must be protected.
We cannot allow marine mammals to disappear from this fragile environment. Sign the petition below to urge the National Marine Fisheries Service to deny the U.S. Air Force’s request to increase missile testing off of Kauai.
Dear Ms. Harrison,
I’m writing to urge you to deny the United States Air Force’s request to expand weapons testing at the Pacific Missile Range Facility to over 100 munitions per year. This request is troubling, and would place whales and dolphins in grave danger.
We must respect the sensitive ecosystem of our oceans. Marine mammal populations are facing enormous stresses due to intrusions into their breeding and feeding grounds. We must ensure that the cetaceans that call the waters off Kauai home can continue to thrive as they have always done. Please listen to the recommendations of the scientific community and prohibit this new round of increased testing at this facility.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Whit Welles