Tuesday, January 30, 2001
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Posted on: Tuesday, January 30, 2001

Bomb detonation on Kaho'olawe upsets whale lovers

By Timothy Hurley
Advertiser Maui County Bureau

KIHEI, Maui — The scheduled detonation of a large bomb on Kahoolawe tomorrow has a marine conservation group worried about its impact on the endangered humpback whales that winter in the waters around the former military target range.

"It’s unforgivable,’’ Greg Kaufman, Pacific Whale Foundation president, said yesterday. "There are record numbers of whales this year, and it’s the peak of the season. They can find any time to do this.’’

The 2,000-pound World War II-style bomb — the largest single explosive device found on Kahoolawe so far — is scheduled to be detonated between 11 a.m. and noon tomorrow during a media tour of ordnance-removal operations on the island.

Navy public affairs officer Don Rochon said the detonation on the south shoreline of the Kanapou district would likely kick up a large dust cloud and may be felt on the South Maui coast and Upcountry. Boaters are being advised to stay at least two miles away from the island.

Kaufman said Pacific Whale Foundation research in the early 1980s found that the military bombing had a negative effect on the whales. On bombing days, he said, as many as three-fourths fewer whales were found plying the waters.

Kaufman asked the Navy yesterday to postpone the detonation to at least May 15, the end of whale season, or to conduct aerial reconnaissance to make sure no whales are within three miles of the blast site.

Rochon said protocols were followed to ensure that cultural sites and land-based endangered species will not be affected.

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