Don't Drown Out Dolphins' Voices! Stop Dangerous Seismic Testing

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Oceana, founded in 2001, is the largest international organization focused solely on ocean conservation.

About the Petition

Underwater seismic testing sounds like dynamite going off outside your home, over and over again. The sound carries for thousands of miles, and marine animals can't escape it. Dolphins and whales might beach themselves to get away, or, if they're too close, they could suffer hearing loss or other injuries.

The loud noises can make communication impossible, cutting these social animals off from their families. When faced with this noise, endangered whales stop singing for mates and dolphin mothers can no longer whistle at their babies.

The Department of the Interior is proposing seismic testing along the Middle and South Atlantic. Tens of thousands of dolphins and whales will be affected, including endangered right whales, whose only known calving grounds are at the edge of the testing zone. Tell President Obama that we need to protect dolphins and whales in the Atlantic, not drive them away.

Photo: Oceana/Pitu Rovirosa

To: President Barack Obama

I strongly oppose the harmful seismic oil and gas exploration program that is proposed for the Mid-Atlantic and South Atlantic outer continental shelf (OCS) planning areas. The seismic activity is not only injurious to marine wildlife, but is also the first step toward harmful offshore drilling and spilling off our coasts. We will never be able to drill our way to low gas prices or energy independence, so there is no justification for subjecting marine animals to the extremely damaging effects of airgun noise.

The intense blasts of airgun arrays are some of the loudest underwater sounds humans make, short of explosives. This is exceedingly disruptive for all marine animals that rely on hearing to feed, mate, travel, communicate and perform other behaviors necessary for survival. Airgun noise is loud enough to mask whale calls over literally thousands of miles, destroying their capacity to communicate and breed. It can drive endangered whales to abandon their habitat and cease foraging, again over vast areas of ocean. Closer interactions with airguns can cause hearing loss, injury and death. The South Atlantic is the only calving area for one of the most endangered whales in the world, the North Atlantic right whale, and these airguns pose serious threats to their future.

Airguns also displace commercial species of fish as far as thousands of square kilometers away from where they are used. This has reduced catch rates of species such as cod, haddock and rockfish across areas as large as the state of Rhode Island, leading fishermen in Norway and other parts of the world to seek industry compensation for their losses. This poses a huge threat to commercial and recreational fishing off the Mid- and Southeast Atlantic that generate at least $11.8 billion annually and support 222,000 jobs.  

Seismic exploration is the first of many dangerous and polluting steps in offshore oil and gas development. For all the threats that offshore drilling imposes on our oceans and coastal economies, there is very little reward. According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency, fully developing all of our recoverable offshore oil reserves everywhere would only lower pump prices by three cents – and would take 20 years to do so.  

I urge you to choose Alternative “C” (the “no-action” alternative) which will keep dangerous oil and gas exploration off our coasts, and instead focus on developing renewable energy.


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