For many years, professor Chris Parsons has been tracking the patterns of mass whale strandings around the world. In his most recent paper, "Navy Sonar and Cetaceans: Just how much does the gun need to smoke before we act?" Parsons and his co-authors bring together all of the major whale and dolphin strandings in the past eight years and discuss the different kinds of species that have been affected worldwide. They also strongly argue for stricter environmental policies related to this issue.
"Generally, if there is a large whale stranding, there is a military exercise in the area," says Parsons. "Sonar is killing more whales than we know about." …Though Parsons believes that there is a good chance the U.S. Supreme Court will rule in favor of the Navy, he thinks there is a chance for a win-win situation on both sides.
"If the Navy uses proper mitigation efforts, it can still perform its exercises and affect less of the whale population," he says. However, he argues they need to avoid sensitive areas completely, and have trained, experienced whale experts as lookouts when performing these exercises—"not just someone who has watched a 45-minute DVD, which is sadly the only training most naval lookouts get with respect to finding and detecting whales."Fin whale seen from the air, NOAA