The petition by Clean Ocean Action (COA) is yet another example of signatories being misled in order to secure their support. Ironically, they are using the same incorrect information that Oceana released in September 2013, which has been comprehensively rebutted in a series of recent articles on this site.

These included a challenge of their claim that seismic sounds were 100,000 times more intense than a jet engine; a tabulated comparison of seismic sounds with typical sounds in air and water; and a demonstration that the Endangered Species Coalition petition, which was obviously Oceana inspired, should be considered null and void.

Let’s have a look at the absurd claims that COA make in their petition:

1. COA claim that seismic “sound pulses that are orders of magnitude louder than a jet engine taking off“. This is totally false and simply a repeat of Oceana’s discredited claim. As is shown in the tabulation of seismic sounds relative to typical sounds in air and water, the sound of a jet taking off is slightly greater than seismic sounds.

2. COA state that the seismic pulses “will have devastating impacts to all marine life, including whales, dolphins, sea turtles, fish and shellfish.” This is a totally false claim as, in 40 years of using compressed air for seismic surveying, other than avoidance over relatively short distances, no impacts have been detected. This is not surprising given the above tabulation summarising how seismic sounds compare with other typical sounds in the ocean. For example, the sounds of calving/colliding icebergs generate sounds of similar loudness, frequency and periodicity and whale calls and breaches are at similar levels to those within a few hundred metres of a seismic source.

Breaching humpback "taking -off"
Breaching humpback “taking -off”
Breaching whale "landing"
Breaching whale “landing”

3.Furthermore, COA state that the seismic survey “will also harm NJ’s tourism and fishing industries.”  There is NO evidence of this occurring in 40 years’ of conducting seismic surveys using compressed air. In fact, there is plenty of evidence to demonstrate that this is a very misinformed claim.

Finally, it is interesting to note some of the organisations aligned with COA. For example, it includes the International Game Fishing Association. Hmmm, don’t they kill fish for fun? Also, it includes a Fisherman’s Cooperative. It is noted that even Oceana has realised recently that by-catch from fishing is a very significant problem. It is well known that hundreds of thousands (probably millions) of marine animals perish annually around the world as a result of being caught/entangled in fishing equipment.

Talk about hypocrisy, both in terms of the conflicting interests within the group coordinated by COA and the petition containing blatant misinformation. This makes the petition invalid and the credibility of COA suspect.