Save the Whales
"The biggest effort of Save The Whales was without a doubt our battle to stop the Navy from performing “ship shock” tests in the Channel Islands Marine Sanctuary, a biologically sensitive area off the coast of Southern California. These waters are home to blue, sperm, fin and humpback whales, as well as dolphins, seals and sea lions. If the U.S. Navy had been allowed to go ahead with its plans – which were to test the hull integrity of its new cruisers by detonating 270 underwater explosives over a five-year period – it was estimated that hundreds of thousands of these beautiful animals, as well as other marine life, would have been killed outright. Others would have faced a slow lingering death from damage to their internal organs and hearing.
"The government held public hearings in Long Beach, and we got various animal and marine mammal groups to make statements or provide us with written statements that could be read at the hearing. Unfortunately, the government had made up its mind prior to the hearing, so it was no surprise that the Navy was given the go-ahead to perform their tests. One of the reasons they gave at the hearings was that it (a sanctuary) was a convenient location for them.
"We contacted Natural Resources Defense Council and they agreed to take on the case. They obtained a high-powered Los Angeles legal firm to assist. But before our case could be outlined, we had to obtain a PhD expert for every animal mentioned in the written statements. We also had to have a scientist who was an expert in the field of bioacoustics. We called every expert we knew. Many of them sympathized with our position, but the government funded them or their marine mammal research and they could not take a public position. After a week, we had run out of options in the United States. With less than two weeks until testing began, Hal Whitehead, PhD, a Canadian and the world’s foremost authority on sperm whales, agreed to testify. After he joined us, other experts came on board and miraculously we had what we needed.
"A five-day hearing was held in the U.S. District Court, Central District, in downtown Los Angeles. Richard B. Kendall and several of his associates from Shearman & Sterling, Los Angeles, headed our legal team. Joel Reynolds, an attorney with Natural Resources Defense Council, and several members of his team provided an amazing array of legal talent. We – and the animals – were so fortunate that this powerful team came together at this particular time."