The “Graveyard of the Atlantic” Should Be a Thing of the Past – Not the Future - Oceana USA
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January 10, 2014

The “Graveyard of the Atlantic” Should Be a Thing of the Past – Not the Future

By Randy Sturgill

The waters off the North Carolina coast are known as the “graveyard of the Atlantic.” Since the 16th century, thousands of ships have wrecked on the area’s deadly capes and shoals. Even today, mariners still dread these places, including familiar places like Cape Hattaras, Cape Lookout, and Cape Fear.

With the passing of time and new aids to navigation, the respect for these waters still runs deep. Twenty-one lighthouses once stood on the coast, warning ships to beware. Seven of them still stand today, and should be reminder to everyone that these waters are still the “graveyard of the Atlantic.”

About 10 miles north of Cape Fear is the small community of Kure Beach. Its city limits sign is just north of the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher. Fewer than 2,000 folks live there, and the vast majority call this place home because of the beautiful beaches and unspoiled, pristine waters of the Atlantic. Many of these citizens have a history here—they have been able to enjoy the unspoiled and unoiled splendor of these waters, and often pass this legacy on to generations to come.

But this pristine place is now under attack. The oil industry preparing to use seismic airgun testing to explore for offshore oil, which would turn this special place into a wasteland.

Is it really a coincidence that oil industry sources are rapidly touting how oil and gas exploration in the Atlantic would bring untold wealth and jobs to the Atlantic coast? Is it really a coincidence that they would target a small community like Kure Beach which could use more revenue during these tough times? Is it really a coincidence that they had the town’s mayor sign onto a letter supporting seismic airgun testing?

No, it’s not a coincidence. The major problem with their sales approach is that local folks who love these waters are watching. Locals know that 138,500 whales and dolphins would be injured by seismic testing, and many could die. Locals know that oil and gas exploration is a dirty and dangerous business. Locals know how many jobs in tourism and commercial and recreational fishing would be lost. And the homeowners and folks that depend on seasonal rentals of their beach property know that seismic airguns aren’t good for business.

We all know just how devastating seismic airgun testing would be to marine life, even before the first well is drilled. We know that if you drill, you will spill. We also remember the Deep Water Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Stories about the horrendous damage to the gulf ecosystem are still in the news today, because the spill still has an effect.

The oil industry needs to leave the “graveyard of the Atlantic” to history. It should be a place of past disasters—not new ones.