Oceanic Blasts Harm Ecosystems
Oil companies have received federal permission to use seismic airguns to find oil and gas deep beneath the Atlantic Ocean floor during offshore oil exploration from New England to Florida. Repeated every 10 seconds, 24 hours a day, for days and weeks at a time, the airguns are so loud that they disturb, injure or kill marine mammals, sea turtles and other wildlife, harm commercial fisheries and disrupt coastal economies. The proposed testing could injure 138,000 whales and dolphins and disturb millions more, according to government estimates.
Impacts include temporary and permanent hearing loss, disruption of mating and feeding, beach stranding and deaths. Whales and dolphins rely on their hearing to find food, communicate and reproduce. Airgun blasts can kill fish eggs and larvae, and scare away fish from important habitats. Catch rates of cod and haddock declined by 40-to-80 percent for thousands of miles following seismic surveys. Nonprofit environmental watchdog Oceana is working to halt the use of the devices and stop the expansion of dangerous offshore drilling that follows the seismic testing.
This article appears in the March 2019 issue of Natural Awakenings.