Greenpeace Wrong about Atlantic Seismic

 A Greenpeace blog includes a post entitled “US government considering seismic testing proposal, nearly 140,000 whales and dolphins at risk.” This post incorrectly states that  “The Obama administration is considering allowing the use of deadly seismic airgun  blasts to search for oil and gas under the ocean floor, the first harmful step toward expanding dangerous offshore drilling to the Atlantic. The U.S. Department of the  Interior estimates that 138,500 whales and dolphins will be injured and possibly killed  along the East Coast if these tests are allowed to go through.”

 This statement is wrong because seismic airguns are not “deadly.”  BOEM emphasizes: “No lethal impacts to marine mammals are expected” from seismic in the Atlantic.  Whales and dolphins will not “be injured and possibly killed” by seismic tests in the Atlantic or anywhere else.

Similarly, the National Marine Fisheries Service recently stated:  “There is no specific evidence that exposure to pulses of airgun sound can cause PTS [physical injury] in any marine mammal, even with large arrays of airguns….To date, there is no evidence that serious injury, death, or stranding by marine mammals can occur from exposure to airgun pulses, even in the case of large airgun arrays….NMFS does not expect any marine mammals will incur serious injury or mortality in the Arctic Ocean or strand as a result of the proposed seismic survey.”

A recent NMFS Biological Opinion concluded that marine mammals are flourishing in the Arctic during increasing oil and gas seismic activities there:  “Data indicate that bowhead whales are robust, increasing in abundance, and have been approaching (or have reached) the lower limit of their historic population size at the same time that oil and gas exploration activities have been occurring in the Beaufort Sea and, to a lesser extent, the Chukchi Sea….To our knowledge, no whales or other marine mammals have been killed or injured by these past seismic operations, and the BCB population of bowhead whales continues to increase at an annual rate estimated more than 3 percent.”

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, when it was still MMS, concluded with regard to the entire Outer Continental Shelf that:  “[T]here have been no known instances of injury, mortality, or population level effects on marine mammals from seismic exposure….”

BOEM recently issued a Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement which concluded that, despite more than 50 years of oil and gas operations in the Gulf of Mexico, “there are no data to suggest that activities from the preexisting OCS Program are significantly impacting marine mammal populations.”

Seismic has not hurt marine mammals in the Arctic and Gulf of Mexico.  It won’t hurt marine mammals in the Atlantic either.

The lack of harm from seismic is discussed at length in CRE’s White Paper on Regulation of Seismic in the Gulf of Mexico,  and in CRE’s Atlantic EIS Comments.  These CRE documents also provide links to the Government documents quoted above.

Click here for the incorrect Greenpeace blog about seismic.








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