Good news for whales (for a change)

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We’ve been pretty short on good oceans-related news of late, but here’s an exception! On Monday a district judge issued a temporary restraining order blocking the use of high-intensity sonar by the U.S. Navy during its war games now taking place off Hawaii. She gave the Navy and the Natural Resources Defense Council until July 12 to meet and discuss a possible settlement ahead of a July 18 hearing. (NRDC and other organizations filed suit asking for the restraining order last week.)

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As we’ve reported in the past, Navy sonar has been directly implicated in mass strandings and deaths of whales, dolphins, and other marine species.

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(Note: Before anyone asks, these here marine mammals are not really wearing ear muffs; the image has been photoshopped.)

The decision comes three days after the Pentagon saw fit to declare the Navy exempt from the Marine Mammals Protection Act, which requires that steps be taken to avoid harm to marine mammals.

In her ruling, District Judge Florence-Marie Cooper wrote that environmentalists had submitted “considerable convincing scientific evidence that the Navy’s use of…sonar can kill, injure and disturb many species, including marine mammals.”

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