Exploration for Offshore Oil Drilling with Seismic Airguns Harms Marine Life
Seismic airgun blasting is the first step towards dirty and dangerous offshore drilling. In November 2018, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued Incidental Harassment Authorizations (IHAs) for five companies to harm marine mammals while conducting large-scale seismic surveys for oil and gas in the Atlantic.
Noise from airguns can disturb, injure or kill marine animals from zooplankton, the base of the food web, to large whales. According to the government’s own estimates, seismic airgun blasting in the Atlantic Ocean will injure and disturb marine mammals, like dolphins and whale, hundreds of thousands of times.
The blast zone stretches from the mouth of Cape May, New Jersey to Cape Canaveral, Florida and contains at least thirty-four species of marine mammals. The area also includes the only known calving ground for the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale. Endangered and threatened sea turtles live in the region’s waters and nest on its beaches. The blast zone is also home to hundreds of species of fish and shellfish, many of which support important commercial and recreational fisheries.
For more information see Oceana’s seismic airgun factsheet. (updated April 2019)