The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Miyoko Sakashita,, (415) 632-5308

Obama Administration OKs Super Noisy Airguns in Opening up Atlantic Coast to Oil Exploration

Blast could deafen, kill whales, dolphins, other wildlife


July 18 - The Obama administration today gave the green light to oil and gas exploration off the Atlantic Coast, including approval from the Department of the Interior to allow seismic surveys to blast noisy airguns known to injure and harm marine mammals.

"The Atlantic Ocean should be off limits to oil and gas drilling. It's habitat that should be protected for endangered right whales and other wildlife, but instead the government is planning to let oil companies blast airguns, drill, and probably spill oil," said Miyoko Sakashita, oceans director at the Center for Biological Diversity. "It's an ugly turn of events."

Seismic exploration surveys use arrays of high-powered air guns to search for oil and generate the loudest human sounds in the ocean short of explosives. The blasts, which can reach more than 250 decibels, can cause hearing loss in marine mammals, disturb essential behaviors such as feeding and breeding over vast distances, mask communications between individual whales and dolphins, and reduce catch rates of commercial fish.

"Whales use sound in the ocean to communicate, find food and reproduce. Blasting loud airguns into their environment to look for oil not only interferes with these essential behaviors but can deafen and even kill them," said Sakashita.

Now the Atlantic Ocean is open for business. According to the decision document, the Department will now accept permit applications for seismic surveys in federal waters from Delaware Bay to Cape Canaveral.

At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature — to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters and climate that species need to survive.

(520) 623-5252