Environmentalists say a Navy plan to build a training range for sonar exercises off the Jacksonville coast could harm endangered right whales.

The whales spend their winters in the waters of Georgia and northeast Florida raising their young. It is the only known calving ground for the species.

In a response to the Navy draft, Georgia Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Noel Holcomb said protecting the whale calving habitat is crucial for population recovery.

The training range would be about 50 miles offshore, outsidethat critical zone. But agencies in both states say whales are found throughout the area, not just near the beach.

One whale fitted with an electronic monitor in 2005 traveled 73 miles east ofshore.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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