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- …

COMMENTS

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  1. Paul

    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.

  2. Pete

    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.

  3. Seán

    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.

  4. Andrew
    Black Helicopters

    Kill all dolphins!

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

    Lovecraft knew the truth.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I spy Dr Evil's hand in this!

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

  6. Anonymous Coward
    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?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    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 !

  9. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    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?

  11. Stuart
    Thumb Up

    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.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    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 ;)

  13. Alze
    Black Helicopters

    New newsgroup ?

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

  14. Jamie Kitson
    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.

  15. Tom
    Alien

    Can't help thinking

    There's something a bit Hitchhikers about all this.

  16. Marvin the Martian
    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).

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    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.

  18. David Cornes
    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.

  19. The Mole

    Other submarine

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

  20. Anonymous Coward
    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

  21. Jerry
    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)

  22. Ian Stephenson Silver badge
    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!

  23. Richard
    Stop

    @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.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  25. Ed Blackshaw Silver badge

    @Kill all dolphins!

    Cthulhu Ftagn!

  26. Anonymous Coward
    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)

  27. Martin Lee
    Thumb Down

    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.

  28. frymaster

    @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?

  29. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  31. Joe Blogs
    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....

  32. Anonymous Coward
    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...

  33. Anonymous Coward
    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

  34. oxo
    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.

  35. Christian Cook
    Alert

    I hate dolphins anyway...

    Does this world really have a need for cute sharks?

  36. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  37. Edward Pearson

    @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.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    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

  39. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  40. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge
    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?

  41. George
    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.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  43. harryhedgehog
    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

  44. John Robson Silver badge
    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...

  45. david
    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?

  46. Robajob

    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.

  47. Andy Bell

    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.....

  48. Kate Menzies
    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.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    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?

  50. Andy Pullin

    @ 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.......

  51. jai
    Coat

    so long and thanks for all the fish

    i suspect this is only the first of many mass-suicides by dolphins

    keep your towel handy - the Vogon constructor fleet is due imminently

    mines the one with the electronic thumb in one pocket and the rather useful guide book in the other

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    total RN bullshit

    one minute 'no we have no activity in the area', as soon as locals reported seeing them, 'oops, yes, we were there, but we didnt do anything' or 'we were there but didnt use anything serious'.

    now they expect us to believe in that crap, or anything they tell us ?

    yes we do have to defend the country, but at least come clean so the scientist may get a chance to work out how to avoid the next mass killing.

  53. Dr Stephen Jones

    It's those evil corporations again!

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

    http://www.climate-resistance.org/2008/06/huffing-and-puffin-on-isle-of-maybe.html

    If the Greenies can't find something to bash their favourite targets, they'll just make it up.

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Just a thought...

    Anyone know what dolphin tastes like?

    Mines the one with "Meat is Murder.. and Murder tastes pretty damn good!" on the back.

  55. alphaxion

    tit-le required

    this is, of course, assuming that our naval forces are telling the truth about their (lack of) activities during this event.

    They may, or may not be telling the truth so maybe we have a try at finding out if this belief is real and drop some sonar gear into the same tank as some captive cetaceans and observe their reaction.

    A little obvious? possibly.

    Solves the argument? prolly not as they'll bitch that "the sea floor might be changing the signal to something that spooks them". That and you'll get screams of "how dare you test this on dolphins!" too.

    *sigh* when will the great filter catch up with us?

  56. Andy Mabbett
    Linux

    Marine Conservation Society

    A quick plug, if I may, for the Marine Conservation Society, which anyone interested in preserving our marine fauna should join.

    [A penguin, because it's the only marine wildlife on offer]

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    My comments keep getting edited out...

    ...and I can't think of a reason why... and all the points in my original post have now been repeated by various other posters (as Pete appears to have hitten a raw nerve...)

    Do I smell funny or something?

  58. Paul

    @Jamie Kitson

    "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."

    When you get those figures, please publish them along with the expenditure in each field. I'll bet it is VASTLY disproportionate. Mind you, the anti-terrorist FUD will say "That proves it must be working".

  59. Jamester
    Joke

    From Newsbiscuit...

    "A dolphin terrorist plot was uncovered yesterday when an abortive attack upon humans in Cornwall went badly wrong. The marine mammals found themselves unable to make it more than a few yards on dry land to attack their targets and the dolphin terrorists were found dead on the beaches. But now there are fears that these martyrs will only encourage further suicide attacks on mankind from this sinister cell of fundamentalist dolphins."

    True motives revealed I fear. 42 days detention may be helped in this case.

    http://newsbiscuit.com/article/dolphin-suicide-bombers-foiled-by-beach-298

  60. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Genetically modified dolphins

    I always thought the best way of handling fishermen killing dolphins would be to genetrically modify dolphins to taste like tuna - then you really wouldn't care...

    Oh, and by the way Pete, do you happen to remember the Falklands war only 25 years ago? Sonar played a key part in that particular shout. There are a lot of countries with Navies in the world, not all of them are completely friendly to the UK or NATO, and we are, at least last time I checked, an island nation.

  61. james
    Coat

    bias

    "The Ministry of Defence admitted it had been conducting exercises involving surface ships and submarines in Falmouth Bay" when both types of vessel are involved you can be damned sure that they will be using active sonar of all frequencies to find the target subs.

    as for the 'no live fire' thats hogwash, people who live along the coast in the area heard explosions (probably due to a mine based excersize or large caliber guns firing)

    the navy originally denied even being in the area at all, so can you trust them on any other point?

    "no we werent there, oh maybe we were but we didnt fire anything honest.... well maybe just a few rounds.... and a mine or two but those dont really count right?"

    btw you need to do a bit more research before you put the word 'fact' in the title of a facetious column, active sonar of both low and high frequency has been shown to damage cetetian hearing, causing massive damage to their inner ears (simple google search would have provided you info on that) and besides do you really believe that sonar has stayed the same since the 30's? seriously like it hasnt increased in power and changed in frequency multiple times? catch a grip.

    i like my tuna sarnies as much as the next guy and dont really care that flipper gets stiffed for me to eat a tastey sandwich (dolphins are evil little buggers regardless of their good pr - watch vids of them torturing porpoise and youll be glad they beached) but i disagree with people pushing their own biased belief as fact.

    mines the one with the objective reality

  62. Solomon Grundy

    Fishermen Pulled to Their Deaths???

    Really? How often does that happen? How do we know it isn't a sea monster pulling the boat under?

    In any case, most offshore fishing boats have quick release mechanisms that allow them to jettison the net if something goes horribly wrong (sea monster, submarine, really big dolphins, whales, etc...). Unless someone (Islamic terrorists perhaps) have developed a super fast submarine then any reasonably alert crew should be able to ditch the nets long before the boat is pulled under.

  63. Mark

    Active sonar is stupid anyway

    It's like wandering around the Horror Movie set with a bright torch. You see bugger all until you turn around and find the monster right behind you.

    Probably used the "I'll walk to the bright light" method of location...

  64. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Dodgy Batteries....

    Obviously they didn't use Duracell batteries in thier Fin-Fin(supper seacret sea going version of Tom-Tom(would that be GPS or SPS???) during its sea-going trials with the Navy

    The batteries went flat, or it leaked, and it sent them up the swannie.

    Remember kids, use appooved batteries only

  65. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    I blame the Tuna

    After all we are all advised to eat dolphin friendly tuna so guess these dolphins met up with the unfriendly sort.

    I already have my jacket and I going thanks.

  66. Michael
    Flame

    Its obviously the Navy

    Nobody else has sonar - except for every small boat on the water.

  67. Anonymous Coward
    Go

    They had it coming...

    People always try and tell me how clever dolphins and whales are-yet every other organism with an eye to twinkle managed to grow some legs and get out before the lung upgrade and eggshell superfluity conjecture became compelling...

    I pretty much consummately hate the military when they actually do their real job of killing people and know we could have got nuclear medicine and the other truly excellent things they come up with another way when doing the non-villainous peace time boffins ' work that really separates us from fat whiny losers with self contained breathing apparatus who are still legless so breastfeed underwater, but every particle in me goes strange and sinister when I have to deal with splashy confirmed bias findings that wales and dolphins are super intelligent and especially life worthy because some humanoids nicked their sonic-nav. and possibly steered them coast bound, which of course proves humanoids that do science hate nature and only create magic conditions that lead to super warming of the entire planet making it impossible for any life to survive. I'm in a nasty little coastal 'destination' called Noosa, in Australia. The locals, the completely WHITE ones with "Keep Noosa special, It's Ours!" Tee shirts (to protect the environment) sipping from similarly emblazoned mugs their free trade coffee and fat as pigs on their very posh "slow food" (expensively made from non GM 'organic' (not me, I only eat food from space) foodstuffs from the 'Farmers' market' after they got their pictures taken for the local paper while enjoying a public contest involving other over-fed white overlords donning what look like tin foil hats in the form of bike helmets with spikes attached in order to break watermelons (inorganic gm confections, doubtless) over their heads... they all love telling me about how bad whaling is, especially if the Japanese or Norwegians do it. We deprive Aboriginies of absolutely everything except being allowed to hunt dugongs (an ugly porpoise thing otherwise as worthy as flipper) and septuagenarians-actually they don't live that long but 'Elders'- shagging 12yr olds because they're child brides and their property. Middle eastern teenagers that do that get over 50 years without possibility of parole. These Green Noosa border security bigots harp on about how evil the Japanese are while eating bacon and eggs and doing yoga to whale song, I want to send the Noosa Journal photos of the melon frenzy to their World Vision carbon/guilt-trade black kid after they get the annual report on the saved confirming their favourite food is still 'Bread'. We sacrifice every inch of arable land to hooved animal farming- except pigs which are clever enough to understand what's going on to their screaming comrades a few feet away to panic, piss, shit, and scream/squeal in terror, these we grow inside in boxes they can't move in. That's what I do yoga to, my porcine panpipe dirges disc, and I'm a non-driving vegetarian pharmaceutical fancier who skips breakfast. I honestly wouldn't care if we killed every whale and dolphin in the world if it got us some breakthrough science; not that it's killing them, or would, to get that. Religion and the Army and Greenies, axis of evil, none believe humanoids don't need to be killed. Fascists.

  68. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    re: Pete & naval sonar: wrong enemy, wrong century

    Where do you think all those "old" submarines have gone? China, Iran, North Korea, Turkey, Canada (lol), South Africa etc. Just because the media no longer reports any threat from these government sponsored navies doesn't mean there is no threat or a need to stay on top of the technology for any future event that can spark a new cold war. Burying your head in the sand and believing that those threats are no longer relevant is really a poor concept to follow.

    Paris loves submariners because they do it deeper!

  69. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    Dolphins in Tuna Nets

    Nobody ever complains about the tuna being caught in the tuna nets...

  70. John F***ing Stepp

    I went and asked flipper.

    His reply; EEK,EEK,EEK.

    Was not really helpful.

    Sorry.

  71. Steven Shuster
    Linux

    Sorry gotta point out the hypocracy

    Meat is murder

    By David Cornes

    "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."

    You do realize that their connection to fish is that they EAT them right?

  72. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    PETA

    and hey, what's not to like....they are tasty, after all. Dolphin friendly tuna are the ones that don't mind being humped by the dolphins while they're all being swept into the nets.

    Seriously, folks.Do you believe the government and military? Someone please quote out of a reliate independent study of the vaious frequencies that have been tested against the dolphins. Oh, can't do that now, can we...well, thanks again animal-rights-tards. Now who the hell are we supposed to believe.

    'Cos she wouldn't touch anything that's had anything fishy near it!

  73. steven kraft Silver badge
    Stop

    @Pete

    Well, the Brit (and U.S.) navies have greatly reduced the number of their frigates and destroyers since the end of the Cold War (which by the way involved tracking a lot of potentially nasty Soviet subs that could have been used to blockade or irradiate the British Isles).

    Nowadays ASW ships have been cut way back, but its still a good idea to be prepared in case somebody decides to take a new whack at the Battle of the Atlantic sometime in the next 5-10-15 years. Living on an island, the British people are still a little vulnerable having their international commerce torpedoed on the high seas and it would take years to rebuild the RN's ASW capabilities if they stopped training out of concern over disorienting Flipper and Free Willy.

    Also, those nice South American drug cartels are building mini-subs to deliver their Bolivian marching powder, which is something of a concern. And I suppose that for the right price those cartels might be willing to leave a ton of coke in Colombia and smuggle a few unpleasant Al Qaeda types onto British shores in its place.

  74. StopthePropaganda
    Thumb Up

    the second awesome LP article in as many days

    I really enjoy articles when someone applies insider knowledge to cut through media propaganda bullsh*t. This has got to be one of Mr. Page's best.

    Especially pointing out that this sort of thing has been used forever, and with *greater* power output in the past-early version sonar/radar/ etc were notoriously inefficient and like early Soviet fighter jets, overcame lack of precision with brute power. The fact that there are watchdog groups (and commonsense self preservation) is why power levels are reduced.

    Too much power and you allow your enemy to learn everything about your detection system without being near enough to be detected.

    And for those who think sonar has no use? Ask the Chinese. Ask why they feel the need to deploy nuclear, espionage and attack submarines in ever greater numbers over the last decade? And did everyone (except the Chinese infowar bloggers) forget about a little incident with Chinese and American naval exercises where active sonar was *not* used and allowed a powered down Chinese U boat to pop up in the middle of a carrier group?

    Good work, LP. Balance looks good on you.

  75. James Butler
    Paris Hilton

    @Pete

    THANK YOU for being the lightning rod on this one! I feel your pain, buddy.

    @the rest of you doubters:

    If sonic waves (sonar) aren't harmful, then why are they being developed into effective weapons?

    http://www.defense-update.com/products/l/LRAD.htm

    - http://washingtontimes.com/news/2004/mar/07/20040307-120634-6220r/

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4701588

    http://dictionaryofwar.org/en-dict/node/418.

    Dolphins are exceptionally sensitive to sonar as it is their primary means of navigation and communication. Duh!

    I swear, sometime El Reg readers can be really stupid.

    Paris, because she's brighter than most of you in this comment section.

  76. Ben Norris

    Its obvious...

    The sonar sweeps were just a cover. These were navy trained sniffer dolphins undergoing an exercise and someone left the wrong type of suitcase on the beach.

  77. Rambo
    Happy

    Buh-bye, fish!

    I love dolphins! Not only are they cute, they taste like chicken!! I'm just waiting for that final goodbye when they all split and leave a note like, "So long, and thanks for all the fish."

    (Yes, I know they're not fish. I just don't give a crap)

  78. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Steven Shuster

    sorry, got to point out that you can't feckin' spell.

    It's hypocrisy ffs.

    The quallity speling in these commints is plumming knew deps.

  79. Neil

    Poor Pete

    I bet he thinks twice about posting next time :)

  80. alphaxion

    another tit-le required

    has anyone checked these dolphins for polonium? anyone? ;)

  81. matthew
    Dead Vulture

    RE: Seems strange to me...

    I completely agree with 'Suspicious Git', I've lived in Falmouth all my life and he is exactly right about the Fal estuary, there isn’t really any reason to believe it was anything but an accident, lets face it humans aren’t immune to going places and turning up dead (look up ‘Mount Hood climbing accidents’ on Wikipedia).

    But back to the last comment in the article about the amount killed by fishing nets, that statistic can’t relate to Cornish fisherman (or British in general) as they can only keep there nets in the water for a couple minutes before they fill there yearly quota.

  82. Mark

    RE: Seems strange to me...

    Well, that isn't a problem because these fishermen have sold their quotas to foreign fishing boats.

    Then complain that all these foreigners are catching our fish...

  83. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Fishermen Pulled to Their Deaths???

    >Really?

    Antares , look it up.

    >How often does that happen?

    At least once, fishing is an incredibly dangerous occupation, so boats are lost anyway. The movement of nuclear submarines is secret so they try to avoid mentioning every bump.

    >How do we know it isn't a sea monster pulling the boat under?

    Because Trenchant reported a hitting something in the area and surfaced to see what it was, however there was nothing in sight.

    4 dead.

    >In any case, most offshore fishing boats have quick release mechanisms

    It appears that Antares didn't.

    http://www.maib.gov.uk/cms_resources/antares%20and%20hms%20trenchant%20synopsis%201992.pdf

  84. Alan Fisher

    Virtiolic angry folk

    sheesh! Guys, Guys!!!

    why all the anger people??

    When last I looked this was an environmental story and had nothing at all to do with one's feelings of Patriotism, love of one's nation's armed forces or politics but, as happens lamentably often, it has become so...why?

    Is it even remotely possible that the Navy might be what is a smidge dishonest about it's activity? Has this ever happened before? Official Secrets Act anyone? The Armed Forces tend not to tell us Civvies what they're doing as a matter of course remember?.

    Lets not turn this thread into an excuse to complain at attempt to make fun of the people who actually have the jutzpa to care about the planet and the jakobs to say so..certain folk should be ashamed of themselves....30 animals die in very lamentable circumstances and you joke about it....if it were 30 dogs or 30 cats and people though it was high frequency soundwaves, something would be done I believe....

  85. storng.bare.durid
    Stop

    Dammit guys, Dolphins are our allies.

    The critters involved in innsmouth were decidedly piscean, not cetacean, ffs.

    Dolphins and whales are our allies in our struggle against this Ctulthu menace. Kill all tentacled and scaly oily fishy scum.

    Don't piss our cetacean colleagues off or they'll just leave.

    You all know what happened the last time they left with nothing more than a 'so long and thanks for all the fish'...

  86. John Hughes
    Black Helicopters

    Iranian "stealth submarine"

    @Dodgy Geezer sez:

    "However, Iran launched a new 'stealth' submarine last year, so another attack may come sooner than we think..."

    Uh, all submarines are "stealth". That's the whole point.

    And if you're talking about this http://bubbleheads.blogspot.com/2005/05/new-iranian-submarine-not-quite.html

    Then it may not be time to panic yet.

    Funny, no black submarine icon, have to go with the helicopter. (With a sonar buoy?)

  87. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    Re: Dolphin Friendly Tuna

    >> 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.)

    They don't use nets, they use fishing lines instead, that is what makes it dolphin friendly - or at least that is what it says on the tin.

  88. david
    Joke

    @Alan Fisher

    dogs, cats, gerbils, goldfish - all barely edible parasites, kill 'em all.

  89. Steve Mann

    Dolphin Confusion

    No matter how confused a dolphin is, I would think it would know not to crawl out onto dry land to ask for directions.

    Beaching is bizarre behaviour that goes against any sort of instinct the animals could have (they are monumentally unsuited for protracted stays on dry land, after all). If we grant that dolphins are intelligent (and that they are intelligent enough to recognise dangerous situations and co-operate to resolve them is no longer open to debate) the beaching behaviour suggests a suspension of that intelligence, as in some sort of cognitive disruption at a fairly basic level.

    I'd suspect an infection of the brain as a first plausible reason for the beachings. That elliminated, I'd have to weigh the only other possibilities: That the sonar was so unpleasant the dolphins simply had to get out of the conducting medium, or that the dolphins were beaching as a first step to assuming their domination of the local human population, followed by forced interbreeding and the eventual over-running of the costal areas by hordes of loathsome hybrid Squeaking Ones, as Andrew so adroitly pointed out.

  90. Michael Beck
    Stop

    How'd they get there?

    One thing that no-one's mentioned is an alternative reason for why the dolphins ended up there in the first place. I know that they use sonar to communicate and "see" what's around them, but what do they use to navigate over a distance? Surely magnetic fields are more likely for that, and given the fact that the earth is going through a natural reversal in magnetic poles, it wouldn't surprise me if this sort of thing becomes more common.

  91. Robin Bradshaw
    Black Helicopters

    It will all be a moot point soon

    Following hot on the heels of the "invisible shed" boffins in spain have unveiled their plans for a "shed of silence" which warps acoustic waves around itself making it invisible to sonar. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7450321.stm

    Once this is perfected the use of sonar by the military will be obsolete as all the submarines will be protected by their own shed of silence and sonar will only serve as a means of giving away your position.

    Rumours the mericans are thinking of combing the shed of silence with the invisible shed to create a prison in cuba you cant see and cant hear the inmates screaming cant be confirmed, due to the evidence being invisible and silent.

  92. Alan Fisher
    Linux

    why do people get so angry?

    Why do some people get so het up about 'greenies'? I take it those of you who harp on about "greenies" don't give a fig about the environment and want the earth to become a barren wasteland where no-one but the very rich can afford to buy food? Off topic but food prices guys....climate change...any ideas?

    Give the 'greenies' their due, at least they care about people other than themselves eh?

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