Sunday, May 7, 2017


Every so often, this Gray Matters blog turns to The Ocean Matters, so I can express my heart to you.

I want you to please understand what is happening to the dolphin and whales (as well as all marine mammals) under water.

Also, please read the next below,
where I reveal my experience while sea-kayaking
with a baby whale
in the La Jolla waters,
out past the caves...


Cetacean Advocacy

- Low Frequency Active Sonar causes brain injury to sea mammals

  (These photos are not of Heidi, but were chosen 
so you could imagine her experience.)

The intention of this letter is to increase awareness of the devastating health risks that whales and all sea mammals are facing due to Noise Pollution and powerful sonar sound waves.  My experience with an injured whale deeply saddens me.  I have been a kayaker for about 20 years.  On November 2014, I went on a paddle with two fellow sea-kayakers.  We put in at La Jolla Shores and paddled out past the caves.  A whale surfaced about 30 feet from my boat.  It was a baby.  It was alone.  It swam right up next to my boat.  I could see the barnacles on its back.  She (or he) stayed relatively close, giving us some time to admire her.  Yet her mother was nowhere around.  What could cause a mother whale to separate from her young?

It is not new news - sonar has been used in California waters by the Navy, for quite some time.  I recently found out that most, if not all Navy ships have sonar-firing capabilities!  Sonar uses very powerful sound waves that can damage whale and dolphin’s hearing and brains.  I can explain to you a little about brain injury, because this is my field (   Whales and dolphins being injured by sonar can be compared to soldiers being injured by blasts from Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).  Sonar has caused whales to hemorrhage (or to bleed) around their ears.  Their hearing is essential for survival; when their hearing goes, they are mortally disabled.  I feel an ache in my heart for their disability.   Their hearing being blasted by sonar, threatens their survival; mothers get separated from their babies!

I am sharing this because all those above water need to know about the condition of the ocean environment in which the sea mammals exist.   They are traumatized by screeching loud noise under water.  I looked at that baby whale with no mom’s love or support and I felt what s/he was going through.  He was fully disoriented.  I have seen people disoriented from a brain injury.  I know what they go through.  I have experienced it myself.  When the baby whale went underwater, we paddled on for about half an hour around the cove and then paddled back (one hour total) and when we returned, the whale was still there!  It was still alone and notably DISORIENTED!!!

I am writing to advocate for the whales and dolphins.  I hope to educate about the devastating effect of sonar on the brains of sea mammals.  For more information about the effects of noise and its impact under water, see

The Ocean Matters!

Heidi Lerner

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