Seismic airgun testing for oil and gas threatens marine life and coastal ecosystems

© OCEANA

Author: Angela Pauly
Date: April 16, 2013



Our colleagues in North America have released a new report: “A Deaf Whale Is a Dead Whale: Seismic Airgun Testing for Oil and Gas Threatens Marine Life and Coastal Ecosystems” which goes into the dangerous and destructive practice that has become all too common.

Airguns use compressed air to generate intense pulses of sound, which are 100,000 times more intense than a jet engine. These loud blasts occur on a recurring basis, going off every ten seconds, for 24 hours a day, often for weeks on end. They are so loud that they penetrate through the ocean, and miles into the seafloor, then bounce back, bringing information to the surface about the location of buried oil and gas deposits.

Unfortunately, in their quest for resources, airgun blasts harm whales, dolphins, sea turtles and fish. The types of impacts marine mammals may endure include temporary and permanent hearing loss, abandonment of habitat, disruption of mating and feeding, beach strandings and even death.

This isn’t an issue that we are immune to in Europe. In fact, a few months ago, we were disturbed to hear that Spain provide permits to UK-based "Capricorn Spain Limited” for seismic testing off the coast of the country’s famed Costa Brava in an area boasting many iconic species that actually borders a marine protected area.  

What’s worse is that this type of testing is but a first step before eventually drilling for oil and gas – the consequences of which we are unfortunately, all too familiar with.

Take a look at this video to learn a bit more about it.