- Federal Report Finds Navy Testing Safe for Marine Mammals
- US to Dismantle Vessel Grounded on Philippine Reef
- UK Man Stumbles Upon Ambergris Possibly Worth More Than $100K
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is readying to release a report this week whose findings state that the US Navy testing of submarines, torpedoes, and other military systems in the waters off the East Coast will have only a “negligible” impact on marine life. The testing and training plan scheduled to run from 2014 to 2019 includes air-to-surface missile practice, large-caliber gunnery training, and blasting sonar in the water, among other activities. The 2.6 million square miles of ocean that will be used for testing includes the South Florida Ocean Measurement Facility, which runs near shore to 25 miles out, will see an increase in the use of unmanned vehicles, mine countermeasures, and testing of surface and submarine vessels. The report projects marine life losses to include nearly 3,500 individual minke whales and Atlantic spotted and bottlenose dolphins, while 22 million other marine mammals would suffer disruption in their feeding, mating, and migration activities. The report goes on to say that the damage inflicted upon marine life will be minimized as long as the Navy follows safety measures, such as marine mammal protection zones around each ship. However, 20 environmental groups endorsed a letter in July 2012 in opposition to the activities, while senior policy analyst for the National Resources Defense Council Michael Jasny has dismissed the NMFS report, saying that the projections of harm to marine life are grossly understated.
The US Navy minesweeper vessel that ran aground on the Philippine Tubbataha reef will be dismantled and scrapped, according to a statement issued by Captain Darryn James, spokesperson for the US Pacific fleet. Damage done to the wooden hull and fiberglass coating on the port side of the USS Guardian by corals have rendered the ship irreparable, and plans to lift the vessel off the reef with giant floating cranes were dismissed in favor of dismantling the ship, which Capt. James said was in an effort to minimize further damage done to the reef. However, Filipino environmentalist Lory Tan disagrees, contesting that the month-long dismantling project involves more movement, and could pose a greater risk of damage. Potentially harmful substances have been removed from the vessel, including 15,000 gallons of diesel fuel, 671 gallons of lubricating fuel, and an assortment of paints and solvents in order to avoid polluting the reef. As a result of the incident, militant groups of the Philippines are calling for an end to the Visiting Forces Agreement they have with the US, which allows American forces to conduct annual “war games” with Philippine forces.
A UK man walking his dog along a Morecambe beach stumbled upon a grotesque but highly valuable find: a large piece of ambergris weighing nearly 7 pounds. Ambergris is a substance produced in the digestive system of sperm whales, which is then expelled through the mouth or as fecal matter. Although ambergris smells putrid in its fresh state, as it ages it attains a more earthy, sweet smell that makes it highly prized as an additive in the perfume industry. A French dealer has already offered the man 50,000 Euros, but conducting internet research on ambergris told him it could be worth more than $100,000. He is planning to send a small sample to France to have it verified before he accepts any offers.