Oceana Magazine: Spring 2013

A dolphinA Sea of Noise

By Emily Fisher

The sound of ocean waves ebbing and flowing is one of the most soothing on Earth, with a rhythm akin to a human’s breathing at rest. But beneath the waves, a dangerous din is growing.

Sonar blasts from military exercises and ever-present noise from commercial shipping engines are creating a cacophony in our seas – and if proposed seismic airgun testing moves forward in the Atlantic, the noise will soon become unbearable for some of the most beloved and charismatic creatures in the ocean.

During seismic airgun testing, deafening blasts of compressed air are shot from the surface of the sea miles under the seafloor to detect oil and gas deposits. The Department of the Interior is considering airgun testing from Delaware to Florida, which could have devastating impacts on marine mammals, sea turtles and fisheries.

If approved, the airgun blasts, which are 100,000 times more intense than a jet engine, would occur every 10 seconds, 24 hours a day, for days to weeks on end.