There are many threats today facing our oceans. Some of these are complicated and difficult to eliminate, while others are quite simple and could be eliminated immediately. Seismic airgun use in the Atlantic Ocean falls into the latter category.
Congress will vote this year on whether or not to allow seismic airgun use for oil exploration along the Atlantic Coast from Delaware, all the way down here to Florida.
Seismic airguns deliver powerful blasts of sound towards the ocean floor, which then reflect back towards the surface and can be used to tell if oil and gas deposits may exist. During the course of exploration, these blasts typically occur every 10 seconds for several weeks. The blasts produced are 250 decibels — approximately 100,000 times as intense as the 140 decibels produced by a jet engine.
With such intense sound blasts bombarding the marine environment, the United States Department of the Interior conservatively expects the death of 138,500 whales and dolphins, including at least nine critically endangered Northern Right Whales.
It is clear that seismic airgun use will cause great harm, but this has often been a trade-off for great economic gains. In this case, no such gains are expected. Increased offshore drilling along the Atlantic Coast is not expected to do anything to lower gas prices in the United States. Given the huge costs without significant gain, it is critical that we encourage our senators and representatives to vote against the use of seismic airguns in the Atlantic Ocean to prevent unneeded harm to our nation’s marine resources.
Zackery Good, Miami