In a move towards oil and natural gas drilling in the Atlantic, the Trump administration is poised to allow five companies to conduct seismic tests that could harm thousands of whales and other marine life.
Aaron Rice, a research associate with the Bioacoustics Research Program at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology studies the production and perception of sounds by fishes and whales, including sounds from oil and gas exploration. He says the sounds generated by the proposed tests pose a risk to the North Atlantic Right Whale species.
“Sound is a critical aspect of the life history of many, if not most, marine organisms, and sounds from the proposed seismic surveys could have profound effects on their behavior and ecology. Sounds generated by these seismic surveys will propagate hundreds to potentially thousands of miles underwater. They fall within the key hearing ranges of many marine species.
“The proposed survey area coincides with the habitat of many whale and fish species, all of which could be impacted by this survey. The proposed survey area overlaps with the critical habitat of the critically endangered North Atlantic Right Whale, and these sounds may further threaten the survivorship of the entire species.
“The rationale of the IHA is not based on the best available science, and there have been many recent studies which highlight the further potential harm of seismic surveys to marine life.”