Environmentalists have lodged an appeal against the American navy's plans to test sonar and explosives in the waters between Hawaii and California.
The law organisation Earthjustice is representing the Conservation Council for Hawaii, the Animal Welfare Institute, the Centre for Biological Diversity and the Ocean Mammal Institute.
A staff lawyer says harm to marine mammals from sonar is well documented, from mass strandings to internal haemorrhage.
David Henkin says the data the navy is using to forecast the impact on whales and dolphins from its testing over the next five years is considered conservative.
"They've estimated that 155 marine mammals are likely to be killed, another more than 2000 permanently injured either by deafening them or damaging their internal organs and there will be on top of that 9.6 million incidences in which other marine mammals will be harmed or harrassed."
David Henkin says those mammals will not be able to eat, feed, breed or communicate.