Sonar reference dropped from whale report

January 20, 2006

A document made public as a result of a court order says a U.S. government investigator studying the stranding of whales dropped references of naval sonar.

The New York-based environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council had sued the National Marine Fisheries Service over its refusal to release information on 37 whales stranded on North Carolina's Outer Banks, The Washington Post reported Friday.

Investigator Teri Rowles, coordinator of the National Marine Fisheries Service's stranding response program, described in her preliminary report that injuries to seven of the whales "may be indicative" of damage related to the loud blasts of sound from active sonar.

The April 2005 preliminary report also said one of the injuries -- air bubbles in the liver of a pilot whale -- had been reported in mass strandings in the Bahamas and Canary Islands associated with sonar activity.

A later report by Rowles and others did not mention sonar and in a cover letter officials said the initial draft that mentioned sonar "contains early information that was later found to be inaccurate."

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

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