Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Now That's Some Investigative Reporting!

The whole world, it seems, was following the plight of the whale that swam up that Thames in London. Unfortunately, the whale died, and people are asking what could have caused it to get so confused.

While the CNN report linked above mentions an infected wound behind the whale's left eye, others in the press immediately suspected that old bugaboo, naval sonar. The British newpaper The Independent claims to have conducted an "investigation" which "established" that "secret sonar from naval ships is killing thousands of whales around the world and could have disoriented the two-ton mammal that died last night after becoming stranded in the Thames." Note it's not just any sonar, but "secret" sonar...

So, what methodology did they use in their investigation? How did they determine that this particular whale was disoriented by sonar? Did they check out which naval vessels had been operating in the area? Based on the article, the answer is "no". The article contains a statement that "experts believe that the whale's senses could have been damaged by military sonar." It also has a quote from a Canadian professor:

"We know that beaked whales - the group of species to which the northern bottlenose whale belongs - are particularly sensitive to underwater noise. There has been a lot of seismic activity off northern Scotland and in the North Sea, and I understand that the Royal Navy exercises frequently." (emphasis mine)

So, they "established" that sonar could have caused this whale's death based on a general statement from unnamed experts (the guy at the next desk, perhaps?) and an "understanding" from a Professor thousands of miles away that "the Royal Navy exercises frequently".

You convinced me! (Not)

The rest of the article is make up of random statements about previous groundings, none of which provide the discriminating reader with any confidence that the author has even the slightest clue. Examples included a report of 12 dead whales stranded "as Nato sweep (sic) the area with sonar" and the March 2005 report of dolphins beaching "as US Navy sub trails (huh?) sonar off Florida Keys; 30 die." I blogged about that report earlier; the USS Philadelphia's use of sonar in this case seems very unlikely to have caused the beaching. They also mention the recent beaching death of 120 whales off Tasmania and says that the "Australian Navy admits to using sonar". Yes, they did -- after the first group of whales to beach came ashore, some ships used short-range HF sonar; one other article thought it might be more reasonable to blame "seismic airguns".

And of course it wouldn't have anything to do with this theory...

All this leaves the careful news reader with the feeling that some people will rush to blame sonar every time a dead marine mammal shows up somewhere, without any proof at all; this should serve to make one more skeptical of any future such claims from these sources.

Going deep...


Blogger CDR Salamander said...

I blame BusHitleRummyRove. That and the evil of nuclear power. ;)

1/22/2006 7:49 AM

Blogger half said...

Tiny sub-launched Harpoon, from secret tiny sub, the previously secret Dagaloo.

1/22/2006 10:26 AM

Blogger PigBoatSailor said...

It would be funny if I didn't have to help write the response every time our sonar gets blamed for something like this. *grumble* Still working on the response to the idiotic NRDC...

1/22/2006 12:50 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whale cover up. Authorities claimed the whale's gender was uncertain. Do we believe a mammal can be removed from the brine, and examined by veterinarians without determination of its sex? (Perhaps British healthcare is worse than previously thought).

Eventually, the gender will be made public (male). That will be a total fabrication, however.

The northern bottle-nose is an escaped specimen from the RN's bottle-nose training program. Trainees are female "mediums" (psychics).

Would not want her to fall into the wrong hands", would we?

What is the source of this revelation? Obviously the whales can communicate, or their psychic value would be nought. I did not hear this directly from a whale, of course, but BBC reporter Ronald Dumsfeld is working on a related story. LOL

1/22/2006 2:08 PM

Blogger Zoe Brain said...

Many environmentally progressive groups are blaming the use of passive sonar by submarines.

It is a fact that US subs use these devices frequently, without regard to any possible effect they have on marine life.

It is also a fact that a deadly chemical mixture of DiHydrogen Monoxide and Hydroxyl Acid is often used to cool this equipment : over-exposure to either of these two highly dangerous substances can kill in minutes, especially when ingested into the lungs. So called "Atomic" submarines often vent quantities of both these substances, often in their most pure form, into the environmment.

Analysis of the waste products routinely discharged by these boats show that every single particle is heavily contaminated with Atoms, and even Atomic Nuclei.

Of course, given my unusual personal circumstances, I can quite understand the Whale's gender being uncertain at this point. The type of External genitalia is strongly suggestive, but transsexuality is a biological phenomenon found in all of the higher mammals. An autopsy of the whale's brain, to find out whether it was male of female pattern, would be required.

1/25/2006 6:28 AM

Blogger Keys Treasures said...

If you are amused by those sonar stories you might like this one
Sharks Driven Insane by Navy Sonar

1/28/2006 8:00 PM


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