AFP is reporting that 152 dolphins have washed up on Iran’s coast this month- in what they are calling a “mysterious ‘mass-suicide'”.

Everyone seems to have a different explanation- from drowning by fishing nets to oil spills to poisoning by polluted fish.

I have another theory that may sound somewhat conspiratorial- but just as believable: the dolphins where killed by the sonar from a US Navy Submarine operating in the Persian Gulf.

According to the National Resources Defence Council there is “broad scientific consensus that military active sonar kills whales” and other marine mammals like dolphins.

The NRDC claims that “mass strandings and deaths associated with military activities and active sonar have occurred in Madeira (2000), Greece (1996), the U.S. Virgin Islands (1998, 1999), the Canary Islands (1985, 1988, 1989, 2002, 2004), the northwest coast of the United States (2003) and coastal waters off North Carolina (2005)”.

I’m guessing we’ll soon be adding Iran to that list.

  • SubVet

    I apologize for throwing a little fact into the conversation but… USN Submarines almost never use active SONAR. It gives your position away and that equates to almost certain death for the Sub in a shooting war. The SONAR system that has been in the news as a possible source for killing ocean mammals is an active SONAR used by surface ships to search for submarines. Not used _by_ Subs.

  • Iran’s submarines also employ active sonar, which U.S. Navy submarines would rarely use (it gives away position datum and defeats their stealth). Modern surface navies (including those of both Greece and Spain)utilize very powerful active sonars on the other hand, to locate foreign submarines.

    So, besides active sonars, what else might be causing the dolphin deaths?
    How experienced is Iran (already had one nuclear accident, you know) at storing, transporting and disposing wastes from its nuclear development?
    Perhaps their contractors are not as relaible or subjected to the rigorous regulation of those in the West.

    Has Russia been assisting Iran? How excellent is Russia’s nuclear waste record? Just some thoughts.

  • KellyJ

    Except that subs typically only use the passive systems on deployment since an active x-mission gives away their position instantly.

  • Bill

    I don’t even know where to begin. First Submarines rarely if ever use active sonar. The whole idea behind a submarine is for it ro remain hidden. So the US submarines planning a sneak attack on Iran are off the coast blasting away on active sonar that even Iran’s pitiful Navy can pick up and track the source? Second, its automatically the fault of the US that dead dolphins wash up in Iran? Maybe Iran or one of their neighbors had something to do with the dead dolphins washing up on their shore, or maybe since wild animals don’t get vaccinated or have regular health care they dided of natural causes!

  • Good point about not using active sonar unless, of course, the US Navy WANTS Iran to know we have subs waiting offshore.

  • It is also possible that it wasn’t US subs at all.

    supposedly the Iranians have at least two russian-made, Kilo-class submarines of their own.

    Would you at least agree that is may have been a sub? or at the very least, active sonar being used by surface ship trying to locate a sub?

  • I’m not sure the comments are assuming a SURTASS LFA system, which is not employed by submarines themselves but by vessels that can be kept out of the range of enemy subs but still ID their location. These systems have both active and passive components and are the systems that have been known to cause marine mammal deaths.

    Why else would the Navy apply for a permit for “the incidental taking of marine mammals” associated with it’s use?

    So, no. It doesn’t necessarily mean there is U.S. submarine activity in the area, but it might mean that there is SURTASS LFA activity in the area – which might POINT to U.S. submarine activity.

    It looks like there are systems developed to monitor the affect on marine mammals (HF/M3), but it’s impossible to know if they are being employed consistently.

    As those who commented pointed out, active sonar systems are not very good to use given they tend to give away positions and there are passive systems that can be employed. Why the system was even authorized for use is beyond me.

    It looks like the Bush administration has been diligent in trying to scale back marine mammal protections in order to allow wider use of the system:

    11/24/2003 ? President Bush signed P.L. 108-136, the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2004, wherein ?319 amended the MMPA to exempt military readiness activities from ?specified geographical region? and ?small numbers? requirements, and to modify the definition of ?harassment? applicable to military readiness activities.

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