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Washington state officials slam Navy's changes to military testing program that would harm more orcas

Lynda V. Mapes, The Seattle Times on

Published in News & Features

Deborah Giles, science director and research director for the nonprofit Wild Orca, said it makes no sense to her that the harassment committed by the Navy with sonar and underwater explosives is rated the same as the takes she is permitted scooping poop while quietly drifting far from the whales, for analysis under research she conducts for the UW Center for Conservation Biology.

"The potential for harm is too great to wager on such a small population of animals," Giles said. "The thing that is just crazy is NOAA has designated these one of the most critically endangered animals, and for them to say these activities have negligible impact, something is not right and the public needs to know that."

A post about the testing program on the nonprofit's website has drawn outrage, she said.

Ken Balcomb, the director of the Center for Whale Research who tracks southern resident births and deaths for NOAA, said the Navy has not adequately addressed the level of proposed disturbance.

"The whole thing is just shaky and make believe that they have any idea how much damage they are going to do," Balcomb said.

 

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