Protect Endangered Whales From Seismic Blasts

Target: Abigail Ross Hopper, Director, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management

Goal: Don’t allow disruptive seismic testing to torture endangered whales and other sea life.

Millions of ocean creatures, including endangered whales, are likely to suffer due to a disruptive process known as seismic testing. The federal government plans to allow oil and gas companies to conduct seismic testing off the Atlantic coast in 2016, despite knowing the risks it presents.

Seismic testing uses air guns to generate blasts 100 times louder than a jet engine. The reverberation of these sounds creates a picture of the area beneath the ocean floor, which can be used to determine whether oil or gas deposits are present. The blasts may be used every ten seconds for days or weeks at a time.

Marine mammals such as the endangered right whale are very sensitive to underwater sounds. Their auditory capabilities are highly developed for survival and social needs. Not only do the blasts disrupt and confuse these animals, they also torture and even deafen them. Some scientists have suggested that man-made ocean noises such as blasts, in addition to sonar or noises from large shipping freights, contribute to whales and dolphins intentionally beaching themselves.

The federal government’s own estimates state 138,000 whales and dolphins will likely be injured or killed during new seismic blasting. Many of these would likely be right whales, of which there are only around 500 individuals left. They also admitted seismic tests could disrupt the feeding, migration, and other behaviors of up to 13.5 million marine animals.

We must not allow these catastrophic outcomes to occur for oil and gas exploration. It’s time to start leaving oil in the ground, especially when it involves torturing marine life and dangerous offshore drilling. Sign the petition below to urge the director of the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management not to allow seismic testing.


Dear Director Hopper,

I find it shocking that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the Department of the Interior would condone the use of seismic blasting to explore for oil. In seismic testing, oil and gas companies use air guns that produce sounds 100 times louder than a jet engine. These sounds may continue every ten seconds for days or weeks at a time.

Seismic blasts are extremely painful, even deadly, to marine life. The government’s own estimates state the process will likely kill or harm around 138,000 dolphins and whales as well as create an additional 13.5 million instances of harm to marine life. Some of the whales affected by this process will likely be endangered right whales, of which there are only around 500 individuals left.

It is completely unacceptable to allow these terrible consequences to occur, especially in search of oil and gas that should remain in the ground anyway. Finding deposits will only mean progression to dangerous offshore drilling. The United States should be focused on moving past fossil fuels and towards a renewable energy future. I urge you to please protect marine life and stop allowing the use of seismic blasting.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: NOAA

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