New animated maps from Oceana show dolphins and whales threatened by proposed seismic airgun blasting in the Atlantic Ocean. The maps, which are based on groundbreaking research from Duke University’s Marine Geospatial Ecology Lab, draw from 23 years of data to show us the density of bottlenose dolphins, and endangered fin, humpback and sperm whales overlaid with the current seismic airgun permit application area, over the course of a year.
Despite the recent decision to protect the Atlantic Ocean from offshore drilling, seismic airgun blasting, an extremely loud and dangerous process used to search for oil and gas deposits deep below the ocean floor, is still being pursued in an area twice the size of California, stretching from Delaware to Florida. According to government estimates, seismic airgun blasting could injure as many as 138,000 whales and dolphins, while disturbing millions more.
These maps display predicted average whale and dolphin density (number of individuals per 100 km2) over twelve months. Areas in red, orange and yellow have the highest densities of dolphins and whales, and areas of green and blue have lower densities. The maps demonstrate a large overlap between the zone proposed for seismic airgun blasting, shaded in gray, and habitat areas where high numbers of dolphins and whales are predicted to be throughout the year.