back to article Navy sonar dolphin 'massacre' - the facts

For the last twenty-four hours or so the news has been full of beached dolphins, following incidents since Monday near Falmouth in which more than 70 of the marine mammals got into trouble and reportedly up to 30 have died. Various theories have been advanced for the mass stranding, the largest seen in Britain for a quarter- …

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ridiculous

"the idea that sidescan lay behind this incident is ridiculous."

But that won't stop the media/greenies blaming it, especially if the RN say that.

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naval sonar: wrong enemy, wrong century

Who exactly does the navy think they are defending us against, with these sonars? Last I heard, the only people who were pissed off by the UK were the islamic terrorist organisations. Unless there have been some significant developments, I doubt that a desert-based organisation is likely to mount a naval attack on this country, no matter how much they dislike us.

Whether or not this sonar equipment was responsible for the beached dolphins, we've got to ask "what's it all for?" This kind of defence has not had a purpose for the last 60+ years, and yet the powers that be keep updating the technology at vast expense and possibly dire environmental consequences. Maybe it's time someone had a quiet word with the admiralty and told them that WW2 is over.

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Gullible Reg

So if the navy had hard documentary evidence that some kind of sonar or suchlike was in fact screwing with marine life, you're contending they'd publicise the information rather than conceal it. That would be a break with tradition given how many innocent fishermen have been dragged to their death by submarines over the years.

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Black Helicopters

Kill all dolphins!

After all, we don't want another Innsmouth-type incident do we?

Lovecraft knew the truth.

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Anonymous Coward

I spy Dr Evil's hand in this!

Were the dolphins taken out because they had lasers strapped to their frikken heads?

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Alien

@Andrew - Re: Kill all dolphins!

It's far too late for that... What do you think happened on the Isles of Sheppey and Man?

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Anonymous Coward

@Pete

"I doubt that a desert-based organisation is likely to mount a naval attack on this country"

"This kind of defence has not had a purpose for the last 60+ years"

You might give some thought to ongoing intelligence gathering efforts (spying) by China and Russia as revealed by certain arrests over the last decade or so. The fact that most sensationalist 'news' is focused on 'desert-based organisations' does not mean that other concerns have become irrelevant in the real world.

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Joke

Lets face it...

they are trying to beach the buggers. After all, we know there is research getting dolphins to put mines onto ships, so makes sense to ground them.

Flipper? Killer more like !

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Pirate

2d worth

@Paul - Since when have journalists ever let facts get in the way of a good story. It's easy to blame the RN (or any of the armed forces.) They usually have limits on what they can say in their defence. A private corporation or person would be likely to sue.

@Pete - The RN do a lot more than just fight sea battles. Perhaps you might wish to research the functions & tasks that the RN do have before you make yourself look more of a Paris.

@Seán - Same as for Paul

@Andrew - I know fishermen that I would rather kill than Dolphins.

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Stop

I'm not sure Pete

So we don't develop any defence capability until we need it? Who is to say who we will be fighting in 10 years? What happens if we come againt a enemy with similar capability to our own in the future - Russia/China?

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naval sonar: wrong enemy, wrong century

Pete - Sonar detection (or avoiding it) was rather important in 1982. PM Putin sends his bombers to test our fighter defences. Do you presume he has retired his navy from our waters?

Oh and don't Islamic states have hostile navies sharing the Gulf with the RN right now.

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Stop

Cobblers..

Unfortunately, just another example of how many retards exist in the media these days. I do have to point out thought that there are a few that post comments on here also.

Sonar is vitally important as a tool (its not actually a weapon, Pete). As a diver and a yachtsman, I find it pretty handy that the RN and the UK Hydrographic Office have spent so much time, money and effort over the past 300 yrs or so, using any technology to hand (e.g. sidescan more recently) to map the seabed. Anyone who skippers any kind of vessel is too, as if you know where the seabed is it means you stand half a chance of not hitting it.

FYI, I also have it on good authority the real reason why the odd fishing boat sometimes disappears (which used t happen a lot more often during the cold war). Something due to towed-array sonar versus an 'unfriendly' submarines hydroplane apparently ;)

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Black Helicopters

New newsgroup ?

alt.conspiracy.guinea-pig becomes alt.conspiracy.dolphins

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Paris Hilton

Not Only But Also

It has also been suggested that ExxonMobil's seismic surveys caused whales to beach off Madagascar.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7443559.stm

As for logic in the media (or more generally), I have been wanting to get my hands on statistics for terrorist related deaths for a while now, to compare them to say, road or suicide related deaths.

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Tom
Alien

Can't help thinking

There's something a bit Hitchhikers about all this.

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Dead Vulture

So much for reasonable arguments

So your argument boils down to "there have been cars driving through our streets since time immemorial (i.e., the 20s), no pedestrians or cyclists have been hit up to now so it's impossible that this bloody mess this week is caused by a car", while willfully ignoring the fact that the street got busier and busier and then last year the layout was disastrously changed with all kinds of blind corners? And then you go on to suspect rottweilers are more likely?

What if the dolphins been mostly lucky upto now? Consider the fact that both traffic is increasing, and dolphin numbers are increasing due to improving water quality and no hunting since a few generations (see also how seals are returning to a lot of estuaries). Also, the argument that because we couldn't correlate upto now location sonar usage with strandings mostly depends on greater transparency and responsibility of government --- you'd be actually drawn and quartered as a traitor in the thirties for demanding or publishing sensitive info like sonar exercises.

That said, I'd be interested to hear the causes, so I don't see the point of concluding now on no basis that it is or isn't sonar. But to me, the stranded whales with bleeding brains at the location of sonar exercises in recent years were pretty conclusive evidence of cause and effect, given that these are very unusual things (and stranded whale forensics have been routine since the seventies).

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Seems strange to me...

All the reports seem to mention this as a conventional stranding where they run up on to a beach and are unable to get off.

Not so in this case, they appear to have entered a narrow, winding shallow esturine creek and then got stranded when the tide went out.

A look at the photographs shows that there is no clear route out as the exit is masked by bends and points so perhaps having got in there for whatever reason they just could not find the way out?

70 panicking dolphins all trying to echo locate a way out could lead to massive confusion.

Now as to why they all went in there in the first place, thats another question.

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Linux

Meat is murder

"Reputable sources indicate that fishing nets kill a thousand marine mammals a day"

Look I know it can make you go a bit dizzy up here on this moral high ground sometimes ;-) but here we have yet another good reason for being veggie. A proper one that is, one that DOESN'T eat fish!

A penguin, 'cos well they're kind of connected to fish and stuff.

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Other submarine

Any chance that there was another nations sub in the area using low frequency sonar to watch the exercise?

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Black Helicopters

@ Andrew

Indeed you are correct the desiples of Dagon are on the way.

@Pete,

I'm glad to see that history has been rewritten iregarding 1045 -> 89 and that the Soviets never had any submarines.

Christ next thing you are going to tell me that 7 foot tall lizards where the real real enemy but they didn't want to annoy the Great Cthulhu so kept away from the sea.

You arse

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Boffin

Experimental Results?

Presumably if there is an effect on Dolphins by various types of Sonar then this should be measurable?

As an example, observe a pod of Dolphins then blast them with Sonar. Do they change behaviour? Does this change have any statistical significance compared to unblasted Dolphins?

I can't imagine it would be hard to get some data. As an example, bird scarers are routinely deployed. They work - birds fly away. What is the equivalent data for Dolphins? Especially so as fishermen would love to have a means to scare off Dolphins from their catch and would use it legal-or-not if it worked.

I expect all this research has already been done many times over. What do the boffins say? (Actually this question is directed at Lewis. As a journalist I'm sure he has covered the relevant material and can come up with a concise answer)

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Pirate

@ Pete

"we've got to ask "what's it all for?" This kind of defence has not had a purpose for the last 60+ years.."

Falklands Islands 1982 ring a bell?

Jolly Roger for HMS Conqueror coming back up the Clyde!

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@Pete

Well there was this little thing a while back, I think it was called the "Cold War". Ended around 1990 if I'm not very much mistaken.

Now call me crazy, but when my (potential) enemy has a fleet of 'apocalypse in a can' nuclear submarines swarming the oceans, I'd like to have a relatively good way of finding them before they can get close enough to unleash swift doom on my friends, relatives, pets etc. Now of course the cold war _is_ over and the probability of super powers going to war is mercifully slim, but these cigar tubes of death are still out there, and not all of them belong to our best buddies the Yanks.

Plus, who knows what the future will bring? I'd prefer to be a little bit safe than very very sorry.

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Unhappy

@Pete

Hostile nation states are increasing their Navy spend (Russia, Iran & China), it's not much of a leap to expect someone to sell a submarine on the quiet to someone who may not like us. Other more peaceful uses are detecting drug smuggling either way your post shows a serious lack of understanding at best or complete ignorance.

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@Kill all dolphins!

Cthulhu Ftagn!

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Black Helicopters

@ Pete.

You might not be at war with anyone boasting a modern navy at the moment, but it's not that many years ago that the russians (well, technically the Russian Airforce I don't think most russians had much to do with it) conducted (unannounced) training exersises with nuke bombers (technical term escapes me, anyone feel free to chip in) over Norway and Sweden (and quite successfully as well, breaching norwegian aerospace.. which is a bad place to have surprise bombers that are supposed to carry nukes... even if they are from a 'friendly' nation).

Their submarines seem to stray into other countries national waters quite often as well.. by accident obviously.. official appologies and the rest every time we come accross one. Not meant to be there, faulty navigation, engine troubles and the rest.

No, we're not at war. But I think you will find that the main function of an Army/Navy/Airforce (even if it can't scramble jets fast enough to divert 'friendly' bombers) isn't to wage war, it's to prevent it. Or at least make other people think twice before coming over un-invited.

It's stupid to speculate on might have beens, but it's very possible that without any Armed forces you might indeed have gotten some un-invited visitors in the last 60 years. Just because they never came doesn't mean that they never thought about it. Which, if memory serves me correctly, they did.. having vacation plans and all.

Double points to anyone who notices the subtle Monthy Python reference in the last paragraph ;o)

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Re: Pete

That's more or less what was said in 1982 when the navy was being decommissioned.

Perhaps you should have a look at what's going on in the Fulf of Iraq if you think the Royal Navy aren't quite busy enough at the moment.

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@Seán re: hard documentary evidence

Had the navy been using low frequency sonar this would not have been "hard evidence", it simply would mean we couldn't rule it out as a cause straight away.

No idea whether it CAN cause beachings - even if this incident isn't due to sonar it doesn't mean others might be. Or they might not. Isn't it nice to live in a complex world?

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Dead Vulture

slightly off topic

While this incident surely wasn't dolphin friendly I still wonder what exactly 'dolphin friendly tuna' means. Do they have a specific method of catching tuna which doesn't kill dolphins? (This is rather unlikely since dolphins cannot swim through nets which are designed to catch tuna.) Or is it just that those fishermen do not through back the dead dolphins but can them as well? And who am I to distinguish tuna from dolphin meat? Maybe I have never really eaten canned tuna...

EAfH

Dead Vulture, because there is no Dead Tuna icon.

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Anonymous Coward

@Pete

So we are not currently in conflict with anyone who has capable submarines, but we coud be. Suppose the Argentinians get a bit frisky in the South Atlantinc again or the Chinese start to flex their muscles. Perhaps the Indonesions might get hostile with Australia and the Aussies ask for our help. Many nations are now getting into the submarine business with small quiet diesel boats. What do you suggest we do if something starts sinking our merchant traffic? Build a capability then and accept the losses while we do it? Ask the US to help only to find they are busy somewhere else? As an island nation we need to have a defence against any potential threat, not just current ones. Also don't forget the Russian fleet of ICBM boats which are still out there. It is nice to try and keep tabs on where they are.

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Coat

Sheesh... can' you lot not see the truth!!!

It's a warning!!!. They are trying to leave the planet, but haven't quite managed the flying thing yet. They are trying the "fall on to the land but miss it" tactic. It's taking them a few attempts with some casualties on the way, but they will get it.

Mines the one with the pocket stuffed with leaves, just in case....

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Anonymous Coward

I'm surprised they haven't blamed global warming....

After all they blame pretty much everything else on it.

Oh I forgot, its now called climate change...

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Paris Hilton

@Pete

Duh, these are Islamic suicide dolphins. The terrorists didn't secure the dynamite jackets on the dolphins very well it seems though.

Wait a few years and those suicide turtles will eventually arrive from the Red Sea.

Paris - I hear she porpoises up and down

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Flame

Explosions in the area

My sister lives a few miles from there and she told me there were a number of loud explosions at the time of this incident.

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Alert

I hate dolphins anyway...

Does this world really have a need for cute sharks?

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Anonymous Coward

Eat all dolphins!

I was frankly amazed that the dead dolphins were just left there to rot. In these days of escalating food prices, surely some enterprising local fishmonger (or butcher) could have made an offer to whichever arcane agency/person owns them and bought them. Dolphin actually tastes quite delicious.

AC because otherwise I might be found dead floating in some Cornish inlet for suggesting it.

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@naval sonar: wrong enemy, wrong century

Calm down dearest...

They're not out fighing anybody, they're there trying to accuratly map the sea bed. Why are the doing this? So when some Scientist or other comes along to do some research, he'll have the information available to him.

Sickening.

RTFA next time.

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Pirate

@ Pete

It's all about having a full arsenal of weapons and technologies available. If the RN had no sonar equipment at all, then if we were to go to war with a developed nation, then what better way to attack than using submarines! Our enemies could send wave after wave of submersible landing craft to Mighty Blighty and we wouldn't have a clue until the BBC reports that the beaching of enemy troops was probably due to not having sonar.

For example, Nuclear bombs thankfully haven't been used in anger for over 60 years, so do you think it'll be a great idea for us to ditch our arsenal (which is submarine based) and hope our enemies won't use theirs when the apocalypse comes? Also, as our Trident defence system is submarine based, do you think other nations will ditch sonar and then have no hope of detecting our submarines just off the coast of Iran... whoops, I've said too much!

I'll get my coat... it's the NBC suit

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Coat

@Pete

Hate to break it to you but we used this more during the Cold War than we ever did in the 2nd World War. The passive sonar listening has also been used to rebuild events from around the world, including tracking down missing subs (USS Ranger if I recall correctly), modelling earthquates, modelling tidal waves, monitoring shipping traffic entering and leaving port (also done use magnetic signatures). Active sonar has resulted in us being able to track fish stocks, missing aircraft/ships/etc, model the seabed, discover murder victims and many more. The technology advances are pushed by the naval need and adapted by others for things the Navy never dreamed of.

Mines the one with silver dolphins on it.

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Stop

What's it for..?

"...we've got to ask "what's it all for?" This kind of defence has not had a purpose for the last 60+ years, and yet the powers that be keep updating the technology at vast expense and possibly dire environmental consequences. Maybe it's time someone had a quiet word with the admiralty and told them that WW2 is over."

Pete

Ummm..is this the level of ignorance of the average Register reader??

One of the most impressive weapon sets the Soviet Bloc wielded against us during the Cold War was their nuclear attack submarine fleet. Boats like their ALFA class had specifications in excess of anything the US or UK could build. The Cold War ended around 1990, but Russian submarine technology has been sold to other countries, most recently Iran with the Shkval torpedo, which is reckoned to do about 250 mph underwater.

The last time a submarine actually attacked a RN vessel was the ARA San Luis during the Falklands war in 1982. However, Iran launched a new 'stealth' submarine last year, so another attack may come sooner than we think...

The last time a RN vessel actually used sonar defence in wartime conditions was during the Iraq war in 2003 against mines, though minesweeping continues to this day.

So I think we're talking about a defence that continues to have a measurable purpose at the moment?

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Stop

Nice one Pete

Its just your kind of "out there" theories which mean we put ourselves at risk because the government is hesitant to buy new stuff.

I don't know whether you have noticed but not all the countries in the world are our friends, some of them have boats. Therefore without a Navy then we would be defenceless.

And I like the way you say the last 60 years, what about the Falklands War, defending British soil for people who wanted to remain British not Argentinian. That was 25 odd years ago.

And of course we should have all been Russian by now because they are using such old attack methods like boats, silly people and during the Cold War (1945 - 1980s) they were not interested in our country.*

This statement may contain sarcasm.

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Black Helicopters

@Pete

Possibly but I dread to think how much shouting and wailing (no pun intended) there would be should there be a surprise attack by a modern navy and the RN had shut down all their defences because they were fighting in the desert. I think the USA did a similar thing shortly before 7/12/1941 as they didn't think the Japanese would actually attack.

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Flame

RE: naval sonar: wrong enemy, wrong century

As mentioned ... "Whether or not this sonar equipment was responsible for the beached dolphins, we've got to ask "what's it all for?" This kind of defence has not had a purpose for the last 60+ years,"

hmmm.. lets see apart from sonar being needed to avoid collisions, submarines have been in use many times, for example...

Falklands 1982 - Key role in the recapture of South Georgia

Kosovo 1999 - Cruise missle launch

Iraq 2003 - 30 Tomahawk Cruise launches

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Black Helicopters

Black Helicopter -> Blue box

"Royal Navy's new Sonar 2087, just coming into service"

I know mickeysoft have been trying to sell next years product, and car manufacturers try to stay ahead of the game by releasing "next years model today", but the navy have been fleeced if they think that's a device from 8 decades hence.

Unless of course they really have got Dr Who on their side...

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Pirate

Anyway, if you really like dolphins - and hey, what's not to like?

3 things

- They're 'cute'

- The meat tastes like a cross between badger and rotten cod

- Either they are so intelligent that they strand themselves on purpose just to get a bit of sympathy or they are so stupid they can't recognise shallow water.

Feeling grumpy, two days to go in a job and as well as doing a handover I'm getting a load of new work coming in. Why can't they just leave me alone and let me play on t'internet until Friday night?

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The new Navy sonar system won't be a threat to Dolphins either

Presumably it's been outsourced to someone crap and won't work anyway, or will work but not in the sea, or something.

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re naval sonar: wrong enemy, wrong century

You couldn't be more wrong. Iran and North Korea have some very capable submarines supplied by our good friends the Russians, its not entirely impossible that they may use these to threaten nearby shipping lanes. It may be worthwhile to have some means of countering that threat to our / friendly nations shipping. Doesn't mean anyone is going to sink anyone, but its useful to know that they can't even mount a credible threat thanks to the RN's capability in this area.

Unless you think it worthwhile to trust that other nations will pick up the tab for us, which would leave us in something of a pickle if they decide not to.....

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Joke

Quite right

I was just reading on of those media/greenies (bbc) accusing the poor old Navy of all sorts: "The Natural History Museum said...marine strandings occurred for a number of reasons, including sickness, disorientation, natural mortality, extreme weather conditions or injury." Clearly blaming the Navy for for all those things. They should have just read the MoD press release instead of asking "zoologists" which is clearly a made up word.

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Anonymous Coward

Dolphins and fishermen.

I'm told that in a far off land, dolphins and fishermen live in peace.

In the morning, the fishermen wade into the water with a big net and wait for the dolphins.

The dolphins arrive chasing a big shoal of fish.

The fish head towards the shallows to escape the dolphins -- right into the fishing nets.

The fishermen throw the dolphins enough fish to fill their cetatean bellies and the dolphins always come back.

Doesn't that beat working on a big stinking trawler hands down?

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@ Pete

The only reason this country is still independent is because we're an island with a navy. Any island country (or with extensive coastlines) that gives up its navy is committing international suicide.

Alfred Thayer Mahan's book on naval theory (although fairly dry) is still relevant today, and was written well over 100 years ago.......

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