Sounding The Alarm: The Devastating Effects Of Seismic Blasting 

Photo by Matheo JBT on Unsplash
Photo by Matheo JBT on Unsplash

Seismic blasting is a technique used in oil and gas exploration that has become a significant threat to marine life and the ecosystems of the sea. 

Also known as seismic surveying, it involves using airguns to create powerful sound waves that penetrate the ocean floor. 

These sound waves reflect back to the surface and are recorded to create detailed maps of the subsurface geology. The primary purpose of seismic blasting is to locate potential oil and gas reserves beneath the seabed.

 The airguns are towed behind ships and fire compressed air into the water every 10 to 15 seconds, producing sound levels up to 250 decibels. This intense noise can travel hundreds of kilometers underwater, causing widespread disruption to marine life.

Marine mammals, such as whales and dolphins, rely heavily on their acute sense of hearing for communication, navigation, and hunting. The deafening noise from seismic blasting can cause temporary or permanent hearing loss to these mammals, as well as mass disorientation and stress.

 The disruption caused by seismic surveying can force those mammals to abandon their feeding and breeding grounds, leading to population declines.

Seismic blasting also devastates fish populations and smaller invertebrates

The sound waves caused by the airguns can kill fish eggs and larvae. Invertebrates such as zooplankton are also severely affected.

 Zooplankton mortality rates near blast sites soar, and as zooplankton are the foundation of the marine food web, this can potentially disrupt the entire marine ecosystem.

 The decline in fish and invertebrate populations has negative effects all throughout the marine food chain, and this disruption can lead to the collapse of fisheries and threaten the biodiversity of the ocean.

But who is to blame for all this?

 The fossil fuel industry is primarily responsible for the damages caused by seismic blasting. This technique is the first step in locating and extracting oil and gas, both of which ultimately contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. 

Offshore drilling, which often follows seismic surveys, further degrades marine environments through habitat destruction, pollution, and the increased risk of oil spills.

With the reality of seismic surveying, it is clear that the current regulations are insufficient to protect marine life from the impacts of the blasting. 

Despite the growing and undeniable evidence of its harmful effects, governments continue to permit seismic surveys and offshore drilling. 

This regulatory failure perfectly showcases our society’s deep-rooted issue of prioritizing the short-term economic gain of some over the long-term environmental health of the planet.

It is our moral responsibility to protect marine ecosystems from the devastating effects of seismic blasting. It is the government’s job to put in place stronger regulations and our duty to support renewable energy alternatives and to hold the fossil fuel industry accountable for its environmental impact. 

The moment we decide that long-term environmental health is more important than short-term economic gain is the moment that we can begin to ensure the preservation of our oceans for future generations, of fish, and of humans.

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