Science of Sound – Sound as energy and how it can disrupt or change its surroundings – Comp 1 students we JUST discussed this topic on Thursday.
Remember: Sound travels faster in liquids and non-porous solids than it does in air. It travels about 4.3 times as fast in water
It’s not often that a government delay is cause for celebration, but this time the oceans caught a break. After campaigning by Oceana and our allies, the Department of the Interior decided to postpone their decision on whether to allow seismic airgun use off the Atlantic coast until next March.
The oil and gas industry uses seismic airguns to find deposits beneath the ocean floor. Towed behind boats, these guns shoot blasts of compressed air through the water every 10 to 15 seconds, and the reflected sound waves create a geologic map. But these blasts—which are 100,000 times more intense than the roar of a jet engine—also disorient and harm marine life.
The government’s estimates predict that seismic testing would disrupt critical behaviors like feeding, calving, and breeding for countless marine creatures. The noise will disturb threatened loggerhead sea turtles as they journey to nesting beaches to lay their eggs. At least 138,500 dolphins and whales will be injured—or possibly killed—by the deafening blasts, including the highly endangered North Atlantic right whale.
Dolphins and many whale species are social animals, relying heavily on sound to communicate while they hunt, find mates, and migrate. Temporary or permanent hearing loss from airgun blasts will condemn many marine mammals to death from starvation or stranding.
The proposed seismic testing zone would span more than 300,000 square miles of ocean—an area twice the size of California. Current rules ban drilling in the Atlantic until 2017, but the oil and gas industry could begin the mapping process while the ban is still in place.