LETTER: Community should consider noise threat to orcas in Port Angeles harbor

According to Ken Balcomb, director of the Friday Harbor Center for Whale Research, at least five JPod southern resident orca whales died this year (Dec. 22, The Seattle Times).

Only 79 resident orcas are left.

Future worry for their survival was expressed in the PDN’s Dec. 10 front-page story, “Pipeline Spurs Orca Worries.”

This community might consider the immediate threat, the Navy’s Port Angeles Harbor project, both its pier construction noise and permanent activity of seven large ships.

The Navy has an Incidental Harassment Authorization permit under the Marine Mammal Protection Act during its projected 18-month pier-piling construction term for potential harassment from pile-driving noise.

The level of noise from pier piling construction, as well as from ship motors and ship propellers, create a deafening situation for marine animals which affect flight behavior, as well documented in the Natural Resource Defense Council documentary “Sonic Sea” and the book, “War of the Whales: A True Story.”

The Navy has not done a cumulative impact study or a long-term impact study for its harbor project — for any of the harbor marine life, and certainly not for the orcas.

How many more orcas are we willing to lose?

Who will protect them from further harm, including from the Navy project?

The Navy’s Final EA can be found at http://tinyurl.com/PDN-pile driving.

Darlene Schanfald,


Schanfald is secretary and spokeswoman for the Sequim-based Olympic Environmental Council.