Seismic exploration drowns out the symphony of sounds that whales, dolphins and many other marine populations make to find mates, forage, avoid predators, and communicate with each other. For some marine species, this disruption is a “death of thousand cuts.” The Obama administration itself estimates that, over the next six years, seismic exploration would disrupt feeding, calving, breeding, and other essential activities in Atlantic marine mammals more than 13.5 million times—an astronomical number that biologists have characterized as an underestimate.

Especially at risk is the North Atlantic right whale. Only about 500 of these magnificent, iconic animals exist. They rank among the most endangered whales on the planet, with new evidence indicating that their numbers are declining. Last month, in a letter to the President, twenty-eight leading experts on the right whale wrote: “The additional stress of widespread seismic airgun surveys may well represent a tipping point for the survival of this endangered whale, contributing significantly to a decline toward extinction.”

Whales and other marine mammals are not the only species at risk. Studies in Norway have shown reduced catch rates of cod and haddock over thousands of square kilometers radiating from a single seismic airgun array. The Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Council warned that seismic surveys during spring spawning season could disperse black sea bass and hurt their ability to reproduce. “At the very least,” the Council said in a letter to BOEM, “dispersal of fish aggregations by seismic surveys is likely to disrupt fishing activities (due to fish dispersal) which could have negative economic consequences for commercial and recreational fisheries” throughout the region.

Read the full story at The Post & Courier