The Spanish navy will be carrying out the biggest naval exercises here for sixteen years later this month, and this time, the Canarian Command involved will not be using sonar to try to avoid disturbing cetaceans in the waters around the islands. The last exercises on such a scale, in 2002, resulted in the deaths of a considerable number of whales, but these manoeuvres, codenamed Gruflex 2018, will ensure that any submarine and minesweeper exercises will be restricted to the other areas in which the manoeuvres are taking place, i.e. the Gulf of Cadiz, the Straits of Gibraltar, and the west Mediterranean.
The measure was confirmed by Canarian Command Admiral Juan Luis Sobrino, who explained that the forces are always ready to learn from mistakes, and have taken on board (metaphorically as well as literally!) input from the several Cabildos and Ayuntamientos. In preparing for the manoeuvres, he said, “environmental aspects have always been taken into account both in planning and execution phases”, confirming that the Navy is now fully aware of the need to avoid acoustic transmission around cetaceans.
The exercises will be taking place between 13 and 19 November, and will see around half the Spanish navy taking part with sea-going, submarine, amphibious and land vehicles involved. In the Canaries, they will be able to be spotted in and around Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura.