Subject: FW: Atypical mass strandings and naval exercises

-----Original Message-----
From: Marine Mammals Research and Conservation Discussion
[mailto:MARMAM@UVVM.UVIC.CA]On Behalf Of A. Frantzis
Sent: Thursday, March 23, 2000 10:58 AM
Subject: Re: Atypical mass strandings and naval excercises

Dear all,

Unfortunately, we didn't have to wait very long since 1996 (when NATO
LFAS exercises and beaked whales mass stranding occured in Greece). Some
people will say it is too early to speak about possible causes for the
Bahamas mass stranding. Perhaps they are scientifically right and
certainely, we will all wait for the results of the good specialists who
went to Bahamas to collect samples and data. Nevertheless, since the
news seem to confirm that the US Navy was there at the right time and
the right place performing "submarine detection" once more, I would like
to make the following comments:

1) The Bahamas case seem to be one more "atypical mass stranding",
defined as such by the number of different species involved and the fact
that all animals came ashore during a relatively short period of time,
but in different places of the coasts of Bahamas.

2) After the experience of the beaked whale atypical mass stranding in
Greece, a serious effort is made now to collect the ears of the stranded
animals. I would like to mention that if no physiological damage is
detected in the ears, by no means such a finding proves that underwater
sound was not the cause of the stranding. I have to say this now,
because later the Navy could use it as an argument to claim their
"innocence". Although we have no idea of the mechanism that drived
whales and dolphins (exposed to Navy's sounds) ashore, in the past we
formulated the hypothesis that this mechanism could be psychological or
psycho-physiological. We do not know if these animals feel strong pain
or dizziness or disorientation or they just try to avoid the loud,
unknown sounds which possibly panic them. Unfortunately, all this is
very difficult to prove scientifically. And we cannot interview the
stranded animals asking them "why are you here?"

3) Some months ago, in her comments on the Environmental Impact
Statement of the Navy's LFAS program (sent to Marmam), Lindy Weilgart
wrote prophetically the following:

(do you think the omission described below was just a coincidence?
Anyway, it will be difficult to ignore the new Bahamas evidence)

"Most disturbingly, this EIS fails to mention the only open-and-shut
case we do know of which clearly demonstrates an undeniably
biologically significant effect (i.e. death) of LFAS or even noise
pollution in general--the Frantzis (1998) paper in which 13 Cuvier's
beaked whales died in the Mediterranean. These deaths were as
conclusively tied to LFAS transmissions (both in timing of
transmissions and movement of the broadcasting vessel) as is possible
in any natural system. Bear in mind that this was just one case that
happened to have been observed and correlated to LFAS.
How many more such cases happen in the vast
ocean or on remote shores that we know nothing about?

The fact that the Navy in its EIS is assiduously avoiding any
mention, even a citation, of this vital study in the world's most
major scientific, peer-reviewed journal, speaks volumes...."

Let's hope that this atypical mass stranding will be the last and we
will not need other strandings to convence the world Navies that their
games are very dangerous. It also depends on how strong will be the
reaction of all specialists who can contribute towards this direction.

Best wishes,

Dr. Alexandros Frantzis
Institute of Marine Biological Resources
National Centre for Marine Research
Agios Kosmas
GR-166 04 Hellenikon
tel : ++301 / 9821354
fax : ++301 / 9811713

Personal address:
Terpsichoris 21
tel : ++301 /8962730
fax : ++301 /8960108
e-mail :