Mar. 29, 2011 — SAN DIEGO — Underwater explosions from Navy testing killed at least three dolphins off the California coast. Conservationists have long battled the U.S. military about this sort of testing, which is disruptive and often deadly to marine life. Read up on the latest in this ongoing battle and if you want to help put a stop to these dangerous training practices, sign the petition. — Global Animal

Daily Mail UK

Dolphins Killed by U.S. Navy
The U.S. Navy said it will continue testing at the Silver Strand Training Complex following the dolphin deaths

At least three dolphins have been killed off the American west coast following a Navy training exercise involving underwater explosions, officials have confirmed.

The Fisheries Service are investigating after at least three dolphins were killed off the coast of San Diego, California, earlier this month.

Three long-beaked common dolphins were found dead after the Navy training exercise explosion at Silver Strand Training Complex in Coronado, California.

Click here to sign the petition to stop the military from conducting dangerous tests in marine habitats.

Two other dolphins were later found dead in the area, although it is not clear whether they were killed in the blast.

Navy officials said the training is ‘mission-critical’ and that similar exercises would continue.

Commander Greg Hicks, spokesperson for the U.S. Navy’s Third Fleet, told the San Diego Tribune: ‘We do our best to protect marine life while conducting essential training.’

Authorities said the unit had scanned the area for marine mammals before counting down to detonate explosives for the exercise at 10.45am on March 4.

Commander Hicks added: ‘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.

‘After the detonation, despite all required protective actions taken to avoid marine mammal impacts, three dolphins were found dead in the area.’

The dolphin carcasses were collected by government officials after the explosion and taken to a veterinary lab at Sea World, San Diego for post-mortem examinations.

Biologists are conducted tests on the dolphins to rule out other causes of death such as poisoning or disease.

Conservationists have previously clashed with Navy officials over the need for underwater training involving explosives.

Silver Strand Military Complex Where Dolphins Died
Explosion: Silver Strand Training Complex, a 450-acre site where three dolphins died earlier this month

Sonar exercises have also been heavily criticised, with claims that the Navy’s sonar training can deafen or even kill whales and other marine life.

However, in 2008 the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the military following a dispute over sonar use in training exercises.

Environmental groups have said the dolphin deaths show the military need to take further precautions in protecting marine life from explosives.

Experts have said the latest deaths should not have a significant effect on the dolphin population, even though the mammals are protected under the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act.

There are an estimated 15,000 long-beaked dolphins along the California coast and the species is not considered endangered or threatened.

The 450-acre Silver Strand Training Complex site is the top training site for U.S. Special Operation Forces.

The Navy has conducted beach and offshore wartime training on the site for over 60 years, and in 2010 announced plans for increased training activity at the complex.