Help Protect Whales and Dolphins From Oil Exploration
Dophins and whales need your help. Seismic exploration surveys use arrays of high-powered air guns to search for oil and generate the loudest human-produced sounds in the ocean short of explosives. The blasts, which can exceed 250 decibels, cause hearing loss in marine mammals, disturb feeding and breeding up to vast distances, mask communications between individual whales and dolphins, and reduce catch rates of commercial fish.
The high-intensity pulses made by airguns can hurt marine creatures and ecosystems in a number of ways including broad habitat displacement, disruption of vital behaviors, loss of biological diversity, and even injuries and mortality. High-intensity sounds are known to pose a unique danger to marine mammals and other aquatic species, in part because of the important role that acoustics play in marine ecology and in part because of the great distances and diverse range of habitat over which intense sound can propagate underwater.
The impacts of airgun surveys are felt on an extraordinarily wide geographic scale. For example, a single seismic survey has been shown to cause endangered fin and humpback whales to stop vocalizing -- which they must do to eat and to reproduce -- over an area many tens of thousands of square nautical miles in size, and can cause baleen whales to abandon habitat over the same scale.
The Interior Department agency BOEMRE and its predecessor, the Minerals Management Service, have for years allowed oil exploration using noisy seismic surveys without permits, in violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act. At long last, the agencies are taking steps toward complying with the law.
While certain adverse impacts on whales and dolphins are unavoidable if offshore oil development is allowed, mitigation measures that can be required through the permit process -- such as seasonal limitations on seismic surveys during times of the year when vulnerable species are present -- could greatly reduce impacts.
Fill out the form below to tell the Fisheries Service that you support protecting dolphins and whales from harmful oil exploration.