WHALES: Whales, Porpoises and the U. S. Navy

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While the US Navy has recently been taken to task for the impacts of sound on whales in our oceans, it seems that the Navy VS Whales contest has been going on for decades. The following paper from 1961 provides an analysis of this problem back then.

Whales, Porpoises and the U. S. Navy
By Raymond M. Gilmore, 1961

The far-flung activities of the U. S. Navy now include serious studies of whales and porpoises. These studies center on

1) the confusion of whales and porpoises with military targets;

2) the swimming of whales and porpoises in relation to the dynamics of solid bodies passing through water.

Actually, at no time since the start of World War II have the studies ceased; but, at times they have been slow, and in many fundamental aspects have shown little progress. Now, they are more intense than ever. It is hard to realize that whales are anything more than nautical curiosities to the Navy and an occasional hazard in the course of a ship; but whales may possibly be mistaken for submarines; and the Navy has to learn biology and oceanography, which include whales and porpoises, ie.

In World War II, whales fouled up the sonar gear of Navy search-craft so much, and confused so many visual contacts from surface, or from the air, that the toll of these peaceful, harmless creatures was high. In addition, trigger-happy air-men often used whales as targets even as late as 1958 off Santa Barbara.

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Whales Porpoise and US Navy

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