Friday, March 30, 2012

What are the dangers of these proposed Atlantic Ocean Seismic Surveys?

Last week we told you about the newly proposed Seismic Surveys for the Atlantic Ocean.  What are the dangers of these proposed Atlantic Ocean Seismic Surveys?  Well, read on...

Oil and gas exploration surveys use air gun arrays towed behind vessels. To penetrate ocean waters and deep into the seafloor, multiple sound devices are blasted at the same time.

Seismic Surveys like those proposed by the federal federal government this week will be used exclusively for finding oil and gas deposits in the Atlantic Ocean.

Here’s a map that shows an 115,000 square mile area (small circle) wherein noise intensities can be increased by 20 decibels (more than 100x more intense sound) when surveying is happening.

That's quite a lot

The larger circle represents the farthest distance (1,864 miles (3,000 km)) away from a survey vessel that seismic surveys have been recorded.  In other words, you can record seismic survey blasts in Virginia as far away as Venezuela.

So, over that area, what are the impacts on the ecosystem?

Over 700 fish species produce low frequency sounds: sea turtles, Squid, octopus, shrimp, crab, and even coral and fish larvae have been found to respond to sound. In the ocean, hearing and sound are vital to life as sound is used for everything from migration to reproduction and feeding.

Noise pollution from seismic surveys can interfere with communication, stress, cause loss of hearing and disorientation, injure, and in severe cases be fatal to sealife. Air gun blasts can disrupt animal behavior such as mating, nursing or migration, and affect their ability to detect prey and avoid being eaten. The industrial noise rising in many coastal regions has been compared by scientists to a continuous fog that is shrinking the sensory range of marine animals

The North Atlantic right whale is one of the most vulnerable endangered species, as the small population is already under pressure from ship strikes and traffic noise. Proposed seismic surveys could impact the right whale’s calving grounds off Florida and Georgia and migration route through the Mid-Atlantic. Endangered whales have been found to stop vocalizing in response to seismic surveys in a 100,000 sq mile area.

Commercial fishing catch rates have been decreased by 40-80 % over thousands of square kilometers around a single airgun array. Fishermen in some parts of the world are seeking and getting industry compensation for their losses.

Air gun surveys used in oil exploration have devastating environmental impacts and harm marine life and are inconsistent with national ocean policies and laws to protect marine life.

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