Seismic Airgun Blasting | Oceana

Climate and Energy

Seismic Airgun Blasting

Seismic airgun blasting threatens marine life, coastal communities and local economies.


Seismic airguns are used to find oil and gas deep underneath the ocean floor. Their use can be very harmful to marine life. Oceana works hard to prevent the dangerous practice of seismic airgun blasting, which is the first step toward offshore drilling.

Seismic airguns are used to find oil and gas deep beneath the ocean floor. The airguns are so loud that they can disturb, injure and even  kill marine life. They can also harm commercial fisheries and disrupt coastal economies. These blasts are repeated every ten seconds, 24 hours a day, for days to weeks at a time. Seismic airgun blasting could injure as many as 138,000 whales and dolphins and disturb millions more.

Seismic airguns are towed behind ships and shoot loud blasts of compressed air through the water that travel miles into the seabed, which reflect back information about buried oil and gas deposits. These blasts harm marine mammals, sea turtles, fish and other wildlife.

Oceana is working to halt the use of seismic airguns, and stop the expansion of dangerous offshore drilling.

What Oceana Does

Preventing Seismic Blasting


Oceana works hard to prevent the use of seismic airguns and the practice of offshore drilling in U.S. waters and overseas. The U.S. Atlantic coast is currently in harm’s way. According to DOI’s own estimates, which used outdated science and likely underestimated the impacts, seismic airgun blasting in the Atlantic could injure as many as 138,000 whales and dolphins and disturb 13 million more. There are about 450 North Atlantic right whales left today and they live and give birth in the area of the proposed blast. This critically endangered species could be harmed by airgun use in the Atlantic, especially near its calving habitat off the coasts of Georgia and Florida.


Advocating for Cleaner Energy Sources


Seismic blasts can displace fish stocks and decrease catch rates, putting these fisheries and those whose livelihoods depend on them at risk. We advocate in Congress and the Administration for clean, renewable energy sources like offshore wind, rather than dirty and dangerous fossil fuels. Wind is clean, unlimited and (unlike oil) guaranteed not to spill—making it the clear choice when it comes to energy. Offshore wind also has the potential to provide more jobs and energy to East Coast citizens.