Environmental Oceanography: Topics and Analysis
For Students

Issues Questions

Please read each question below and type your response into each corresponding box. When you are finished, fill out your name, e-mail address, and instructor's e-mail at the bottom of this form, and click submit to send a copy to your instructor.

1:  How much more intense is a garbage disposal than a normal conversation?

2:  How much more intense is the 160 dB level for eardrum rupture than the threshold of pain?

3:  How much more intense is the 160 dB level for eardrum rupture than the level of a motorcycle?

4:  How much more intense is the 215 dB Sonar pulse at its source than the upper level that would cause eardrum rupture in humans?

5:  What was the event that prompted the audio report?

6:  Describe the effects “acoustic blasts” have on whales.

7:  What did the scientifi c exam (necrosis) on the dead whales disclose?

8:  What did the examining scientists conclude was the cause of the whales’ deaths?

9:  What was the Navy’s response to the lawsuit?

10:  Describe the controversy over whether the sonar caused the deaths of the whales.

11:  How and why does the Navy use high-intensity mid-range sonar?

12:  What was the argument of the NRDC attorney in support of the lawsuit?

13:  As a result of the lawsuit, what restrictions were placed on the Navy’s use of the sonar?

14:  What was the NRDC’s position on the waiver?

15:  Is “national security” suffi cient grounds to warrant waiving environmental laws? Why or why not?

16:  Some experts are skeptical of the Navy’s assertion that there are “hundreds” of silent submarines plying the world’s oceans. Assuming it to be factual, is this suffi cient reason to ask for waivers of environmental laws to protect mammals? Why or why not?

17:  In November 2008 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that a lower court had acted improperly in denying the U.S. Navy’s request to deploy and use high-intensity sonar to train its personnel. The Court’s majority said that the Navy’s need to train personnel trumped any adverse impact the activity would have on marine mammals, which the court majority asserted had not been conclusively demonstrated in any case. Research the issue and explain why the Court ruled as it did. Do you agree with the Court’s 5-4 majority? Why or why not?

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