On Friday the Trump administration approved five permits to conduct seismic blasting in the Atlantic Ocean
In April of 2017 President Donald Trump issued an executive order that reversed ocean protections from the Obama administration
In 2015 scientists wrote to the Obama administration detailing the risks of seismic blasting in the Atlantic Ocean
The potential risks of using airguns in the Atlantic could be devastating for marine life
In April of 2017, President Donald Trump issued an executive order that aimed to reverse permanent ocean protections to prospect for oil and gas deposits in America’s publicly-held coastal waters and open them up to seismic testing and drilling. On Friday, the reality of this executive order began to come to fruition.
Marine mammals that were already under threat are facing the possibility of extinction after the Trump administration gave the okay for seismic blasting in the Atlantic Ocean in the continuing hunt for fossil fuels. To find these oil and gas deposits, high-volume airguns — which produce powerful sounds almost comparable to underwater chemical explosives — are fired off every 10 to 12 seconds for weeks and sometimes months at a time. Below is an audio clip of these airgun blasts.
Scientists sent a letter to the Obama administration in 2015 warning that seismic testing could lead to “significant, long-lasting, and widespread” harm to all marine life in the area. The North Atlantic right whale is currently one of the most endangered whales on the planet. With less than 500 left in existence, and attempts to recover the species appearing to be fruitless due to disproportionate human activity in the area, scientists believe the use of airguns in the area could push the right whale into extinction.
Along with whales, many other marine animals rely on sound for their basic survival. According to a long list of scientists, airgun surveys have shown to “disrupt activities essential to foraging and reproduction over vast ocean areas.” This disruption can lead to “calves being separated from their mothers, the effects of which can be lethal, and, over time, cause chronic behavioral and physiological stress, suppressing reproduction and increasing mortality and morbidity.”
These seismic surveys have also shown to displace commercial species of fish, which in return has a depressing effect on fisheries. Airguns have the ability to “cause mortality in fish eggs and larvae, induce hearing loss and physiological stress, interfere with adult breeding calls, and degrade anti-predator response: raising concerns about potentially massive impacts on fish populations.” The results of these seismic surveys could be devastating for marine life in the Atlantic.
Despite these severe risks, the Trump administration approved five permits to do airgun blasting for one year in large undersea areas of the East Coast. Michael Jasny, director of NRDC’s Marine Mammal Protection Project, said the permits were, “a license for private, for-profit companies to maim and even kill fragile marine life, And it’s the first step in exploiting the ocean treasures we all own—all in a reckless quest for more fossil fuels that speed up climate change.”