The petition currently being run by the Endangered Species Coalition and supported by “Deep Sea Oil Free NZ”, is an attempt to prevent seismic surveys and subsequently oil and gas exploration and possible development, off the USA Atlantic coast. However, it is based on misinformation which amounts to outrageous claims made by Oceana.

Let’s have a look at those outrageous claims, which, in fact, make up most of the petition:

1. The petition states “air guns…….are so loud that they can injure or kill marine life” and Northern Right Whales “could be deafened, confused, or even killed by these blasts“.  The facts tell us that, despite 40 years of seismic surveys in the marine environment, using compressed air as the source, there is no reputable, published, scientific evidence of harm to cetaceans caused by noise from these surveys.

2. Further, the petition states that seismic pulses “are repeated every 10 seconds, 24 hours a day, for days and weeks at a time“. Again, the facts tell us this is rarely possible given that seismic vessels have to perform survey grid line changes1 and varying (and sometimes significant) amounts of standby is experienced as a result of weather, third party users (fishing, shipping and even whales) and technical issues. During these periods the source is not active.

3. The petition also propagates the Oceana myth that seismic pulses “are 100,000 times more intense than a jet engine.” As can be seen in an article countering Oceana’s claim, this is certainly NOT a scientific fact. Furthermore, as can be seen in a comparison of seismic sounds with typical sounds in air and water, the sound of a jet taking off is slightly greater than a seismic pulse. Even the sound of the Krakatoa eruption is “only” 8,192 times louder than the sound of a jet taking off and it cracked walls and broke windows up to 160km away, created a 37m tidal wave and was heard up to 4700km away!

4. Finally, the petition wording is totally disingenuous when it claims seismic surveys in the Atlantic “will injure 138,500 whales and dolphins and disturb millions more, according to government estimates“. Have whales and dolphins been injured on any of the other Atlantic margins such as Brazil, Africa, Europe and Canada? NO! Furthermore, as explained in section 4a of an article written to question the ideological propaganda disguised as science by many environmental groups and the media, the government estimate is based on an interpretation of an archaic USA law primarily aimed at regulating the hunting and killing of marine mammals. This leads to any sound heard by a marine mammal, which may result in a behavioural response (ie avoidance of the vessel), becoming a “take”!  Of course, environmental groups exploit this to mean “injure” or even “kill” when such events are not known to have happened during seismic surveys despite very close monitoring. Note that this monitoring occurs on 100% of seismic surveys in most jurisdictions, which is very significantly more than the monitoring of the fishing or shipping industries.

In summary, the above 4 points demonstrate that any signatories to the petition have been provided with false information and, if they relied on this when signing the petition, surely their support is in doubt. Hence, it is suggested that the petition is null and void.

Furthermore, it would appear that people can sign the petition as many times as they like and can also sign anonymously. See a screen shot of some signatories below:

Screen shot 2014-04-27 at 1.29.14 PM_cropped

The signatories highlighted in red boxes cast further doubt on the validity of this petition.

In conclusion, it is recommended that NO notice of this petition be taken as it provides potential signatories with false information in an effort to get them to sign. Furthermore, the fact that the petition allows anonymous signatories as well as multiple signatures from one person, further questions the petition’s validity.

1 A seismic survey, unless it is conducted as a series of overlapping concentric circles or extremely long lines hundreds or thousands of kilometres long (which is quite rare), is conducted as a grid pattern in which the vessel proceeds back and forth along a series of lines. At the end of each line the source is deactivated until the next line is commenced.