Today Oceana CEO Andy Sharpless wrote an op-ed in USA Today, “A Deaf Whale is a Dead Whale”, about seismic airgun testing. As you may know by now, the Department of the Interior is currently reviewing a proposal to search for oil and gas deposits in a huge expanse of the Atlantic Ocean stretching from Delaware to Florida, using seismic airgun arrays.
Andy explains the brutal physics of the operation, which, if approved could wreak havoc on the ocean ecosystem, injuring an estimated 138,500 whales and dolphins:
In seismic airgun testing, a ship tows a seismic airgun, which shoots extremely loud blasts of compressed air through the ocean and miles under the seafloor to help locate oil and gas deposits. These airguns must be incredibly powerful in order to penetrate the water and the earth’s crust and then bounce all the way back up to the surface. In fact, the sound generated by seismic airguns is 100,000 times more intense than a jet engine.
All this, he says, while alternatives remain untapped that are both enviromentally and economically more sound (no pun intended).
Using seismic airguns to explore for oil and gas is a destructive step in the wrong direction for ocean-based energy. It is bad for whales and dolphins, fisheries and our economy. We have much better options for energy development in the Atlantic Ocean such as offshore wind, which could supply well over 50% of the East Coast with reliable, clean electricity. Additionally, offshore wind exploration is much less damaging than exploration for oil, and its development will create three times more jobs and power 26 million more homes.
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