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Dangerous Sonar

Pete Springer/OPB

In February, a juvenile orca identified as L112 — or “Victoria” — washed up dead on the shore in Long Beach, WA. Scientists found the carcass showed signs of trauma, but no broken bones, which ruled out an impact with a ship as the cause of death. Some environmentalists suspect an underwater explosion may have killed the orca. They say the most likely culprit for such an explosion is the the U.S. Navy which uses underwater bombs to test it’s sonar along the Pacific Coast.

The Navy claims no responsibility for the death of L112, and a recent report came back inconclusive. The issue is heated at the moment, as the Navy is currently trying to renew its permit to conduct sonar and explosive tests.

The report follows closely on the heels of a Navy report out of California last Friday which projected that its sonar training may affect more animals than previously projected. That study said the testing may lead to approximately 200 marine mammal deaths and 1,600 cases of hearing loss annually.


  • Ashley Ahearn: EarthFix reporter based in Seattle
  • Brad Hanson: Marine Mammal and Seabird Ecology Team Lead at the Northwest Fishery Science Center in Seattle
  • John Mosher: Senior environmental planner for the Navy’s U.S. Pacific Fleet
  • Alex Stone: Project manager for the Environmental Impact Statement with the Navy’s U.S. Pacific Fleet
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