Vol. 2 No. 1 17Mar98

Voice of the Dolphin

LFAS, the Whales

and the Navy

POBox 1645 Pahoa, Hawai'I 96778 siriusinstitute@yahoo.com

Voice of the Dolphin
Vol. 2 No. 1 March 17, 1998

Low Frequency Active Sonar, the Whales, and the Navy
"Men seldom need educating, but they often need reminding"- Carlyle
The Humpbacks off the island of Hawai'i are, as I write, being subjected to a Navy sonar test program while people go into the water to protect them and stop the tests.
It is my personal opinion and that of the Sirius Institute, as well as respected researchers in the field, that this testing should stop, Now.  
Our nation has decided to protect and offer sanctuary to the Cetacea.  The current Navy tests violate that protection and the will of our citizens. 
Stopping these tests is simple politeness...
....  to an old, conscious, sentient race of beings, the Humpback whales, who are now birthing and raising their children off Kona, Hawai'i in the heart of what we call the "Cetacean Nation",  the three quarters of our water planet which is ocean. 
When government actions, however legal on paper, result in harrassment and harm to a species they are mandated to protect, then we must question the process and reasoning leading to this result.   It would reflect better on the humans if they recognized the magnitude of insult that is happening to the Cetacea and reconsider these actions.  
It is in the best interest of the Navy, America and the world to treat all Cetacea as the conscious, intelligent, sentient, loving beings that they are.  This has been proven, for those with the eyes to see, by the combined experience of humankind for centuries and by investigations by John Lilly and many others.  
In fact, I remind the Navy that they funded part of Lilly's Communication Research Institute, and in about ten years work by stellar minds, they confirmed the quality and size of the dolphin and other Cetacean brains, and explored their many and varied talents, including a partially successful effort to teach the dolphins to speak English in air.
Among these researchers were John Lilly [an M.D., biophysicist, division director at National Institutes of Health, with credentials so impressive he has been called "a walking syllabus of Western civilization"]; Gregory Bateson [A great biologist], Henry M. Truby [who knew 14 languages, and helped invent the sonagram, and one of my major teachers, friend and colleague for over a dozen years], Peter Morgane [neuroanatomist], Willam Munson [an engineer at Bell Labs who designed frequency shifting circuits], and many others, all the best that could be found.  
Their work provided the neurophysiological, neuroanatomical, and behavioral data that originally put the fact of the consciousness, sentience and intelligence of the Cetacea on firm scientific ground.   Back then, the Soviet Union was so convinced by Lilly's conclusions that they issued an edict to stop killing the whales.
Wayne Batteau and Pat Flanagan taught dolphins Hawai'ian, in a project on Coconut Island near Oahu, about 35 years ago in a Navy project.  Batteau devised a frequency shifter that made the human voice higher.  The dolphins were up to some 34 words in Hawai'ian [great choice for a dolphin language, because it has only 14 phonemes, all pronounced, and most of those, vowel sounds that the dolphins can imitate well], when he died, while swimming, of an apparent heart attack and the project was stopped.  
Ken Levaseur states that this work actually continued and that he knows the Navy uses such frequency shifting "translators" with the dolphins even now.  This is hard to confirm, of course, because of classification of the projects, and most of us are largely limited to conjecture in determining what the Navy is really doing.
It is now about 30 years since these halcyon days, and I wonder if anyone remembers what was found?   It seems, sometimes, that we are slipping into a vast dark age; in spite of the Internet and the flood of information, we seem to be losing what we already knew.  This is different than learning that we were wrong.  On the contrary, the more we learn, the more the early thoughts on the intelligence and quality of the Cetacea are confirmed.
We know that their brains are larger than our own, with the Sperm whale having the largest brain known.  We know that the size of the brain in man, elephants, dolphins, orcas, other whales, is limited by the acceleration required to tear the blood capillaries.  This means that one must have a large body, preferably damped in its motion by water, to have a large brain.  All the cetacea have brains that are as large as their body size will allow.  
We know that all the expansion of brain size in the Cetacea is in the neo-cortex, that area of the brain to which we attribute intelligence, reasoning, personality, and the qualities considered human.  Even the dolphin, with 1450 grams of brain, has a brain larger than any human and has 40% MORE neo-cortex than our puny 1350 gram brain.  Humpbacks have a brain of some 8000 grams and Sperm whales, 9600 grams.  Furthermore, whales have had brains as large as ours, or larger, for some 15 to 30 MILLON years (compared to our, perhaps, 5 million year history from our Australopithicine ancestors).
We know that the nerve cell densities, connection densities, and organization of the Cetacean brain is comparable to our own, yet far larger.  Therefore, based on anatomy, electrophysiology, and behavior, the Cetacea are capable of intelligence comparable to, and beyond, our own.
We know that the acoustic data input rate of a dolphin is some 40 times that of the human, and that their vision and other senses are at least comparable to ours.  They have at least 4 sound sources [two pair of naso-pharingies] that are much like vocal cords.  Dolphins can use these to make 4 separate sounds, all different, simultaneously, in a frequency band from <1000 Hz to >300 KHz, at a peak sound power of about 1 Kilowatt!  
This is confirmed by Markov and Ostrakaya, Russian researchers who analyzed some 300,000 dolphin vocalizations.  They concluded that there is a clearly defined syntax and have a language with some 10 to the 12th power or a trillion "words" possible.  The possible vocabulary is far beyond the usual human range, so much so, that some have proposed that their communication is in the form of "sound holographs" which transmit images.  Another speculation is that they use wide band spread spectrum techniques.
We will confirm this and other ideas when resources are available.  
At the moment, most funding is under the control of the Navy and many results are classified.  Dolphins were considered important for the design of advanced sonar, low drag skins, and all sorts of basic data of use to the Navy.  They were used for retrieval of torpedos and such, as well as diver's assistants.  There are many [yet to be openly acknowledged] stories that they were used as weapons.  
Certainly at the time of the original research, the dolphins were far superior in speed and intelligence to any easily produced electronic guided weapon.  It is attractive to use a being arguably brighter than a human to deliver payload, sensing packages, bombs, or to do other tasks, such as protecting areas from enemy divers.  The Navy must consider them quite bright, else why would they consider dolphins as guards for the Trident submarines?  The reliance on the use of Florida Bottlenosed dolphins in the Seattle area led to hypothermic testing that resulted in the deaths of dolphins [According to Frances Jeffries of the Great Whale Foundation], which is tantamount to torturing them to death.  
Thus does the Navy reveal its ongoing and current attitude toward Cetacea   -- as expendible.
This has now extended to suckling babies of endangered species such as the Humpbacks.  Note that in the EIS approving the LFAS testing, the tests are to stop if there is any sign of harm.  Such harm may have already happened, as when a baby Humpback stranded, dead, on the Wainae coast on the first day of LFAS testing.  I have been told that the body was taken away by the Fish and Wildlife people.  At the very least, the American people are entitled to a full report on its death.  In addition, we have the reports of Dr. Marsha Green and the Ocean Mammal Institute, of a baby breeching some 200 times in 2 hours.  The mother was gone, perhaps dead.  Searching has as yet failed to find this baby.
The burden of proof for this apparent harm to the whales lies with the Navy and the agencies involved and those who approved the tests in the first place.  
Obviously, the Navy has tracking gear that could have found the baby, obviously they could have been diligent in examination of the stranded baby and its cause of death.  Both observations are of extremely rare events, the kind that, according to the Navy, should immediately stop the tests.
Why, then, do the tests continue?  
Why is the burden of proof placed on the protestors?  Why are judges loath to enforce the law and stop the tests?  Why is our long-term policy of protection for endangered species now effectively reversed, to where Humpbacks are assaulted in their birthing areas?  If policy is to be changed, or legislation is to be ignored, this is hardly the decision of the Navy, but, indeed, is reserved for the Citizens and their elected officials.  Perhaps all those involved in this mis-begotten project now assaulting the whales will arouse enough ire in us that they will all be turned out of office, forever.  
One can always hope!
Clearly the Navy is ignoring data, and is continuing tests when the data show at least probable harm.  Therefore, the Navy has demonstrated that they will likely violate, and may have already violated, the agreement and protections under which the tests were allowed to happen in the first place.  
That the American people are concerned in this matter is shown by the 50 to 100 hits per hour being made on the Dreamweaver website [ www.dreamweaving.com ].  Thousands of emails, petitions, and the like are being sent to all manner of public officials.
We call for an immediate halt to these tests, and open investigations of the true purpose of these tests.
IF the Navy is intending to limit the intensity of the LFAS tests to 155 dB, which is claimed to be 20 dB below the intensity of a humpback song, then this is one thing.  However, this "fact" is misleading, since the effects of low frequency sound are quite different from high frequency sounds.  We also need to know the spectral makeup of these sounds, their repetition rate, the damping factors of water, etc.  In short, the Navy is giving us a reassuring number that has little meaning until other factors are also known.
For example, the correct harmonic structure in a sound can cause many cavitating micro-bubbles to form in water at relatively low power levels.  It has been shown that this can speed bone healing, if done correctly.  It is also possible to develop harmful versions of the same phenomenon.
We have already seen the ATOC tests here, which, the cover story goes, is an ocean temperature measuring technique.  Curious how close it is to the same spec's as the LFAS.  Perhaps this is a "dual use" system - we measure temperature (publically) and see subs privately?
Now we have a mobile LFAS sound source that, I have been told, weighs 55,000 lbs., yet is only supposed to put out 1 KW of acoustic power.  A sound source that can fit in a torpedo, or one dolphin, can make intensities of this level.  Therefore, we must ask, what is its true Maximum power and loudness?
Bolt, Baranneck and Neuman (BBN) has a description of LFAS that says intensities of 235 dB are wanted, and that they have developed projectors that can deliver these levels.  If this is the case, then it appears the Navy wants these power levels to be used eventually.  How loud is this really? What are its true effects?
Is the current test series merely a preliminary public relations exercise while other, higher power tests are/will occur in secret?  If the Navy is actually concerned by the 155 dB they report using, what about the effects of 235 dB?
Perhaps there will be more tests in the future, at higher and higher levels, until opposition is worn down by time and apathy, poor reporting, wrong information, classification and yanking the funding on those who might object within the Navy and academic community.  This last is perhaps just conjecture, yet it is curious to me that with a hundred hits per hour occuring on the Dreamweaver website, the professional mailing list MarMam, has had less than three posts in the last week on LFAS, while the usual number of reports on seals, and other matters continue.  Is this evidence that the researchers who might otherwise help us sort this out are silent in fear of their grants should they buck the Navy?
What is the overall purpose of LFAS?  What is the operational scope of this system?  
At the moment, we have problems with just one of them in Hawai'i, with reported deaths of Cuvier Beaked Whales in the Mediterranean Sea possibly caused by a NATO version of the LFAS.  How many of these sources will there be?  Operated by how many countries?  Since there are many tricks that can be done with several sound sources going at the same time, allowing phased-array? or phase-conjugate? or perhaps scalar wave? methods?  it is obvious to me that that the Navy is planning some such a system.  Is it possible to build up a standing wave pattern in the ocean that could be focused and with sufficient power, that in addition to finding submarines, it could destroy them?
Some years ago the Russians and Americans decided to jointly ban sonic weapons.   LFAS is a sonic weapon at intensities of 200-235 dB.  Is this weapon then against the law?  Is the US in violation of the ban on sonics?
It is reported that the sound source for LFAS has a range of 100-1000 Hz.  What are the power levels at lower and higher frequencies than this?  For example, since it is known that 7 Hz sounds will homogenize chicken brains, 4-5 Hz will rip mesenteries, 11 Hz will cause feelings of dread, and 14 Hz cause vomiting in humans, then there may well be other effects in the 0-100 Hz side bands of this huge sound projector that the Navy has yet to report on.  
There are now several reports that protestors, in the water, at a range as short as 500 yards from the sound source ship, report being sick (nausea) after being in the water.  Apparently, the LFAS was off at the time.  Yet based on the effects of sub-sonics, I must ask: What is the subsonic intensity of this source?  Perhaps the Navy is testing the effects of LFAS on humans whose intent is to protect the whales.  These reports of harm to humans, when confirmed, would be reason enough to end the tests.
Since we know that some 60% of our tissues are piezo-electric, vibrating tissues in the 100-1000 Hz range will create, in the body, electrical currents that are known to effect everything from circadian rhythm to regeneration of limbs, to causing emotional and behavioral reactions, such as an increase or decrease of reaction time.  The fact that the LFAS is low frequency and high power leave these as quite possible effects.
It is known that the whale tissues are piezoelectric as well [Dean Rawlings, personal communication].
Therefore, it is likely that the LFAS could cause a wide range of effects in cetacea and humans that are deleterious.
The Navy can please heed our reminder and treat all Cetacea,  henceforth,  with the respect to which they are entitled.  It is always wise to remember, humbly, that WE are the species with the shorter evolutionary history, and a smaller brain and which, compared to the ceteacea in the water, is almost deaf, nearly blind, and can hardly swim.  Just because we can harm something, hardly proves superiority.   In the end, if the Navy succeeds with their testing, we all lose yet another opportunity to ally with the largest, oldest, perhaps, wisest minds on our planet.
We must have a better outcome.
Given that many people of the earth are still in a stuggle to be recognized as beings with rights and the entitlement to be citizens, so too, the Cetacea are finding advocates and may soon establish communication with us in an objectively verifiable form.  Then, we and the cetacea can come to agreement
We, as a nation, a people, a planet have now, a clear choice:  Will we be cowed by the Navies and governments of the Earth into fielding even more weapons and sonars that can and apparently has harmed whales, or will we change our minds?   This will show us who is in fact, the master.  
The Navy and agencies involved are thwarting the wishes of many people and violating at least the spirit of the laws designed to protect the Earth and her creatures.
Will we in the near future have a planet that is safe for the Cetacea, or ourselves?
I am reminded of the film, Star Trek IV, where an intelligent probe arrives and attempts to communicate with the whales.  Finding only humans left, it decides that the Earth is devoid of intelligent life, and begins sterilizing the planet to start another seeding and try again to evolve intelligent life.  Given the current state of our combined behavior, I am sure you will agree that the Probe had a point!
If more and more destructive systems of global scope like LFAS are allowed to be fielded and used, the writing is on the wall, and the planet and her creatures are in grave danger.  
Or, we can follow our hearts and the data about the whales, and protect them, honor them, and invite their cooperation.  We ask the Navy to release what they know of the Cetacean language and their efforts to communicate with them.  Surely the Navy knows all that I have written here, and more besides.  Let the people know the truth.
Let us decide that this Paradise of a planet deserves better treatment, and that it will be alive, clean, and exhalted in the next millenium, with humans and Cetacea together, embarked on what Dr. Jerry Pournelle once suggested in a marvelous phrase: "The re-enchantment of the Earth".
The CHOICE is clear; the CHOICE is YOURS!
Michael T. Hyson, Ph.D.
Co-Founder, Research Director
Sirius Institute
Puna, Hawai'i
St. Patrick's Day, March 17, 1998

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