Human voice heard underwater last night in San Juans

Kitsap Sun – 4.8.09 Chris Dunnegan

I have asked a Navy public affairs officer to help me track down an unusual incident involving a human voice heard underwater last night in Haro Strait near the San Juan Islands.

During last night’s incident, Val said he went outside, where he has a clear view through Haro Strait. He says he is more than 90 percent sure that no surface ships were operating in the area.

“The sounds were filling the deep waters of Haro Strait, from one end to the other — and there was no visible source,” he told me.

“I contacted the Bellingham Coast Guard Station and they called back and said it was the Navy, and it was a submarine,” Hyde said in an e-mail. “This was sonar all night, up until the last I was listening until 4:30 this morning.”

One of the concerns among whale observers is that transient orcas were seen in the area two days ago yesterday afternoon. Of course, the Navy is supposed to follow procedures to make sure marine mammals are not within a range where sonar could harm them.

Reports from Scott Veirs, Val’s son, and Jeanne Hyde, can be read on their respective blogs.

Fred Felleman, Northwest consultant for Friends of the Earth, points out that this unusual incident comes in the midst of the Navy’s effort to expand its training operations off the Washington Coast. See the Navy’s Web site for details.

“If the Navy wants to maintain their operations here, let alone expand them, then they should contribute information,” Felleman said.

Felleman has made the point many times that the Navy surely has a wealth of information that could add to the science about marine mammals, but the Navy keeps its information under wraps in the name of national security.

~ by fredfelleman on April 8, 2009.

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