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Navy Allowed "Undersea Warfare Training" Off Coast of Jacksonville, Despite Danger to Sea Life

A federal appeals court has sided with the Navy after environmental groups challenged its plan to hold undersea warfare training 50 nautical miles off the coast of northeast Florida.

The training, the environmental groups contended, will be extremely harmful to whales in the area.

Specifically, the area where the training will be conducted, called the Jacksonville Operating Area, is near an area where whales are known to give birth.

See also: Navy Tests Could Kill Dolphins by the Thousands Off the Coast of Fort Lauderdale

According to a recent environmental-impact statement, most of the damage to sea life in the area would come as a result of detonating explosives underwater, as well as sonar.

The testing also includes gunnery, missile, and torpedo training.

Basically, the Navy playing war games is a massive disruption to the environment, not just sea life like whales, dolphins, and sea turtles, but also to the environment itself.

Sonar, specifically, threatens the animals by disrupting their foraging and forcing them to abandon their habitat or beach themselves. It confuses the animals, oftentimes making them swim in different directions.

The Navy has said it will use specially trained lookouts as well as other measures to minimize harm to the dolphins and sea turtles who make South Florida their home.

Bottom line, the environmental groups' concerns are pretty legit.

But a three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals didn't see it that way, and chose to uphold a lower-court ruling in favor of the Navy.

So, thanks to the ruling, hundreds of already endangered whales could be in serious trouble, because the Navy wants to try out submarines and other stuff the U.S. military barely uses nowadays anyway.

Follow Chris Joseph on Twitter

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