Three dolphins died earlier this month after underwater charges were set off by the Navy during a training exercise, military officials announced Friday.
“They saw the dolphins before the explosives went off, but it came so late it would have put humans at risk to stop the process,” Cmdr. Greg Hicks, a spokesman for the Third Fleet told the Los Angeles Times. “After the detonation, despite all required protective actions taken to avoid marine mammal impacts, three dolphins were found dead in the area.”
Environmental groups have criticized training exercises that use powerful sonar that can deafen or even kill whales and other marine life. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the military in 2008, and the Navy is working on permits and protocols for exercises off the Silver Strand training facility with the National Marine Fisheries Service.
Common dolphins like the ones killed on March 4 number around 15,000 off the California coast and are protected under the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act, but they are not considered threatened or endangered.
City News Service contributed to this report.