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 user 2005-03-06 at 10:07:00 am Views: 103
  • #10692

    Possible sonar link in dolphin beaching probed
    Submarine was conducting exercises a day before
     March , 2005

    MARATHON, Fla. –
    The Navy and marine wildlife experts are investigating whether the beaching of
    dozens of dolphins in the Florida Keys followed the use of sonar by a submarine
    on a training exercise off the coast.

    More than 20
    rough-toothed dolphins have died since Wednesday’s beaching by about 70 of the
    marine mammals, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary spokeswoman Cheva Heck
    said Saturday.

    A day before the
    dolphins swam ashore, the USS Philadelphia had conducted exercises with Navy
    SEALs off Key West, about 45 miles from Marathon, where the dolphins became

    Navy officials
    refused to say if the submarine, based at Groton, Conn., used its sonar during
    the exercise.

    Sonar could pose

    Some scientists surmise that loud bursts of sonar, which can be
    heard for miles in the water, may disorient or scare marine mammals, causing
    them to surface too quickly and suffer the equivalent of what divers know as the
    bends — when sudden decompression forms nitrogen bubbles in tissue.

    “This is absolutely
    high priority,” said Lt. Cdr. Jensin Sommer, spokeswoman for Norfolk, Va.-based
    Naval Submarine Forces. “We are looking into this. We want to be good stewards
    of the environment, and any time there are strandings of marine mammals, we look
    into the operations and locations of any ships that might have been operating in
    that area.”

    Experts are
    conducting necropsies on the dead dolphins, looking for signs of trauma that
    could have been inflicted by loud noises.

    Several dolphins
    were euthanized after blood tests showed 13 of them were “not likely to recover
    at all and that they are suffering,” said Laura Engleby, a biologist with the
    National Marine Fisheries Service.

    “Some were still
    not swimming on their own, and they couldn’t hold themselves up,” Denise Jackson
    of the Marine Mammal Rescue Team said.

    More than 60
    rough-tooth dolphins beached themselves Wednesday on flats and sandbars about a
    quarter mile off Marathon. Rescue teams moved the dolphins to a nearby canal
    where veterinarians have been conducting medical tests.

    The remaining 31
    live dolphins were being given Pedialyte — a drink normally given to dehydrated
    human babies — and fresh water, Jackson said.

    Teams planned to
    move them by Saturday morning to rehabilitation facilities along the Keys or on
    the mainland, officials said.

    dolphins normally inhabit deep waters in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic

    Marathon, in the
    middle of the Florida Keys, is about 46 miles east of Key