OPINION: Did we bomb whales? “If it acts like a sub, pings like a sub, sink it like a sub!”

I wrote this article some time ago, but didn’t post it because the east coast connection wasn’t really solid and I couldn’t really point to the person or article I was referring to below. Well, I just found the article. It was from the Canadian Field Naturalist by Bruce Wright and you can access it here: http://bayoffundy.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Wright-Notes-on-whales-during-WW-II.pdf

Here’s what Bruce had to say. Turns out the group was killer whales … a species that is in really short supply on the eastcoast these days.

June 6, 1942. 55″N 31oW. A group of five killer whales was depth charged
with a five-charge pattern, which exploded within a hundred yards. They
rose to blow, apparently unperturbed and moving leisurely and not the
least alarmed. There were two large and three smaller ones in the herd.
One large male came over to inspect the ship. It came to within 10 yards:
before sheering off. The dorsal fin of this whale was at least four feet
high. When last seen, the whales were still traveling slowly on the
surface in a compact group.

Here’s the original article:

“If it acts like a sub, pings like a sub, sink it like a sub!”

I remember the war years (you know the one to end all … yeah that one) and the years after as they stretched up into the 50s. At that time, in fact, the Canadian Navy‘s roll was “anti-submarine” for many years and I well remember chasing a Russian submarine just off the Queen Charlotte Islands. We found it too … but then we lost it!!! But that’s another story. This story is about using whales for practice because they travel at the same speed as a conventional sub, ping back pretty much like a sub and alter depths in a similar manner.

Now I may have paraphrased what I heard way back 40 years or so ago, but the sentiment was “we use whales for depth charge practice”. For many years now I just put that story away tagging it as “stupidity from another era” … like killing hawks and eagles. But then I started hearing strange stories here on the web and the photo above appeared and pulled the thought right to the surface, to be reinforced by Candice Calloway’s article “Marine Sanctuary and Whale Habitat is Being Used for Bombing Practice by the Military”.

Seems Candice has identified current practices out west that endanger fish and marine mammals that frequent the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary (OCNMS), …”a spectacular, dynamic, and largely undeveloped region of coastal Washington State. The region supports large populations of orcas, sea otters, seabirds, salmon, and is an important part of the migration routes of humpback and grey whales.

And it is regularly bombed and mined with explosives by the U.S. military – for practice.”

Candice is clearly disturbed by these practices and we should be too. And it makes me wonder … are whales still being used as surrogate subs that get tracked, followed and depth charged?

Check out the article and let me know what you think, have heard, or know to be true.


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