WHAT IS SEISMIC TESTING?
Seismic testing is used to find oil and gas reserves under the ocean floor. The process involves blasting the seafloor with high-powered airguns and measuring the echos . The airgun noise penetrates deep into the ocean floor and relays data about what is under the surface .
HOW LOUD ARE THE AIRGUNS?
Each airgun blast is 259 decibels – strong enough to kill a human. They are roughly 100,000 times more intense than a jet engine . The ships tow multiple airguns at a time.
These blasts occur every 10 seconds, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for months.
The noise travels incredibly well through water and can be heard up to 4,000km away . To put that in perspective, it’s like hearing the Sydney fireworks in Perth.
WHY IS IT AN ISSUE?
Marine animals rely heavily on their hearing. Sound is essential for communicating, mating, feeding and avoiding predators . As a result of the continuous noise, marine life can suffer from hearing loss and even death. It also disrupts their mating and feeding habits, causes abandonment of habitat, and beach strandings . As a result, seismic testing can have long term impacts on marine life population numbers.
Research has found that airgun blasts cause an increase in zooplankton mortality from 18 percent to 40-60 percent, up to 1.2 kilometer away from the range tested. The study also found that all larval krill in the range were killed after the air gun’s passage . This means surviving marine animals may struggle to find food.
Once oil is found, there is a potential for a catastrophic oil spill. Exhibit the BP Horizon oil spill or Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The oil rig exploded in 2010 and the effects are still being felt today .
On top of this, there will be an increase in noise pollution from drilling and boat traffic, and an increase in pollution – all of which have the potential to fundamentally disrupt the marine environment.
Despite knowing the damaging impacts involved, seismic testing remains legal in Australia.
Demand a ban on seismic testing by adding your name to the petition.