Navy Range Near Right Whale Calving Ground (GA)
Protecting South Atlantic Marine Life and Habitat
SELC and conservation groups appeal to protect right whales’ only calving grounds
To protect the endangered right whales' only calving grounds, SELC and other conservation groups appealed a federal court decision to allow construction of a Naval warfare training range nearby without considering the impacts of the proposed activities.
Appeal Filed Over Navy Training Range, Georgia Public Broadcasting
In August 2009, the U.S. Navy announced that it will construct its Undersea Warfare Training Range near the only known calving ground for the endangered North Atlantic right whale (map of right whale calving grounds and Navy project). Right whales gather in the calving ground off southern Georgia and northern Florida each winter through spring to give birth and raise their calves. It is designated as critical habitat for the species of which only 350-400 individuals remain.
The calving grounds are adjacent to the planned training range which would encompass a 500-square mile area and a marine protected area for commercially valuable snapper and grouper. The Navy did not include the environment in its site selection criteria and decided to move ahead with the project before completing the necessary surveys of marine life within its selected 500-square mile location. According to the Navy, the $100 million undersea range would be used for anti-submarine warfare training for periods up to six hours about 470 times a year. The simulated warfare would use submarines, surface ships and aircraft, and would include the use of torpedoes and sonar.
SELC and our partners are concerned about the threats the project will introduce to endangered right whales and their calving grounds: ship strikes, sonar and entanglement. SELC is in court to protect the right whales, their calves, and marine life.
Scientists, conservation groups, Georgia, Florida and the Environmental Protection Agency have all expressed serious concerns about the impacts of the project.