As we have been waiting for the official necropsy results from IFAW we stumbled upon this interesting and colorful IFAW report in regard to recent unusual mass stranding event in Cape Cod, MA. It is not dated, but sure looks official with NOAA’s logos all over it.In fact it looks official enough for someone like Peru’s authorities or other officials all over the world to cite it and use it as a reference.
The report is the usual pc stuff the rescues give to the public, however 2 sections of it are particularly interesting. First one is strange explanation why 178 stranded dolphins in Cape Cod are not bad enough to consider it UME (Unusual Mortality Event). By the way, apparently 123 bottlenose dolphins in Texas are enough to declare UME, puzzling, heh?
But the most outrageous part of it of course is the one that flatly denies any role Navy could have played in this stranding. We wrote a lot about Navy’s activities in the area, you can read about it here. IFAW does not mention COMPTUEX, JTFEX exercises at all. Nor did it mention that in fact Navy admitted using high frequency sonar during “Bold Alligator” (and nobody asked them what they used during COMPTUEX, JTFEX ). The IFAW’s main argument however revolves around the notion that the Navy was “too far” to cause any effects. Let’s examine this argument.
First, the claim that the Navy was “too far” is based on completely arbitrary assumption that has no scientific research supporting it whatsoever (by the way other “facts” rescues give to the public are similarly unsupported, like a claim that somehow dolphins’ echolocation ceases to work in shallows). How far is too far? Nobody knows. But what we know is the fact that common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) are among the fastest swimming dolphins. This study reports the swimming speeds for a common dolphin around 6 meters per second. They can even swim faster if needed. But let’s be conservative and say 5 m/s. It gives us 18 km/hr or 11 miles per hour. So in 24 hours dolphins can cover 264 miles. In 48 hours they can cover 528 miles and this is a conservative estimation. The video below can help you visualize this speed.
So, we do not need IFAW to tell us that the Navy was “too far” to be considered a reason for Cape Cod mass stranding. What we need is the data. We need to know Navy presence and activities within 200, 400, 600, 800 and 1000 miles radius from the stranding sites. This will be a hard data, and not the “opinion” of somebody.
Now, the Navy clearly does not want to be associated with Cape Cod stranding, especially now when they plan to significantly increase their testing off East Coast, Hawaii/Pacific and worldwide. But we need to keep them and all rescues/official accountable. We have to demand the data, and not the opinions.
Currently the Navy is collecting public comments for its proposed testing ranges off East Coast and Hawaii/Pacific. If you have a minute, please leave a comment here and here and let the Navy know that the public is not indifferent to the plea of stranded marine mammals.