Clean Ocean Action




YOUR voice is needed for the ocean! Seismic ships may be in the water blasting marine life by the END of THIS SUMMER. The very next step is OFFSHORE DRILLING. Please take the time to send in your own BLAST on seismic blasting.



Image courtesy of Jon Portman



5 Corporations are seeking permits that would harm hundreds of thousands of Whales, Dolphins, Turtles, and many more species!



Ø  The National Marine Fisheries Service is reviewing requests from five corporations (hired by oil and gas companies), to harm marine life called “Intentional Harassment Authorizations (IHA’s)” with seismic testing. 
Ø  Industrial ships will conduct seismic testing (aka ocean blasting) using as many as 48 giant airguns per ship and BLAST the ocean every 20-24 seconds with over 250 decibels for weeks on end.
Ø  Impacts from seismic testing can SHOCK, STUN, SCATTER, HARM, AND KILL marine life. 
Ø  The permits will ALLOW at least 138,000 marine mammals to be harmed, as well as all the other animals in the area.   

TAKE ACTION NOW...let your voice be heard! Tell the federal government why seismic blasting must be stopped.



Only days remain till the comment period closes July 6, 2017 at midnight.


Type up a statement.  You can use the template below.  Email your comments to ITP.Laws@(Spam protected email address)  and please copy Clean Ocean Action at  Advocate@(Spam protected email address)


Sample letter template


TO: ITP.Laws@(Spam protected email address)


cc Advocate@(Spam protected email address)


Subject:  IHA comment -Citizen strongly against Seismic Blasting      




I, __________, am a citizen of ___________.   


I strongly oppose seismic testing in the Atlantic because



The IHA (Intentional Harassment Applications) should be denied because _____________________________


Seismic testing will harm marine life and is a gateway to oil and gas drilling, both of which threaten the ocean ecosystem and clean ocean economy.   (use this , reword it, or make it your own)


The IHA process is lacking in transparency and due process.  I call on NMFS to extend the comment period and hold public hearings in each affected state.  (use this, reword it, or make it your own)


I will be watching this process, and I look forward to your reply to my concerns.


                                Your Name,





*Please note: From the National Marine Fisheries Services Website.

NMFS is not responsible for comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period. Comments received electronically, including all attachments, must not exceed a 25-megabyte file size. Attachments to electronic comments will be accepted in Microsoft Word or Excel or Adobe PDF file formats only. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted online at pr/ permits/ incidental/ oilgas.htm without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address) voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be publicly accessible. Do not submit confidential business information or otherwise sensitive or protected information. See. 

Seismic Airgun Blasting: What is it and What are the Risks?

The importance of sound in the ocean

Many marine species rely on their ability to produce and interpret sounds in communication and locating prey.  Increased human use of the ocean for a variety of industrial, commercial, recreational, research, and military purposes have contributed to rising ambient sound levels.  This means that marine life must deal with a cacophony of man-made sounds when trying to communicate with one another - imagine the frustration you feel when shouting to a friend in a crowded room in order to be heard.  Sources of human-caused noise in the ocean are many, and include military sonar, vessel traffic, construction activities like pile driving, and seismic airgun blasting.  

What is seismic airgun blasting?

Seismic airgun blasting is a practice commonly used by the oil and gas industry to locate potential deposits deep beneath the seafloor; it is also used for research applications to map buried sediments.  It involves an array of airguns being towed for up to several miles behind a vessel and blasting extremely loud pulses of compressed air into the water column and deep into the seabed.  The reverberations that return to the vessel can then be interpreted to understand what lies beneath the seafloor.  In order to obtain a comprehensive "picture," vessels blast seismic airguns every few seconds for days or weeks at a time. 

Why should we care?

Seismic airgun blasting creates one of the loudest sounds in the ocean - on the order of 250 decibels.  A decibel is a measure of the intensity of a sound, and uses a logarithmic scale (so, a sound that increases by 10 decibels is actually 10 times more intense).  To put 250 decibels into context, the threshold at which humans feel pain is 130 decibels; a jet aircraft at takeoff is about 140 decibels!  Noise travels faster and farther in seawater than in air - airgun noise has been recorded over 1,800 miles from its origin,1 which is almost double the distance from Cape May to Miami.

Seismic airgun blasting is a big threat to our ocean and the people and marine life that depend on it:

  • Hearing and sound are integral to the survival of a variety of marine species - over 700 fish species use unique sounds to communicate,2 and many marine mammal species, such as dolphins, use echolocation to navigate and hunt.3
  • Airgun blasts are damagingly loud, producing sound pressures that are several orders of magnitude louder than the threshold that is hazardous to human hearing.4  Depending on the frequency, intensity, and duration of a sound, temporary or permanent shifts in the hearing ability of treasured marine life, including whales, dolphins, seals, sea turtles, fish, and shellfish, can occur. 
  • Airgun blasts can disrupt or prohibit vital marine animal activities, including communication, migration, mating, feeding, and predator avoidance, and can lead to temporary or even permanent hearing loss.
  • Seismic activity impacts marine fisheries, which account for over 43,000 jobs5 and $187 million total annual revenue in New Jersey alone,6 as it may result in habitat abandonment, reduced reproductive success, and hearing loss.  In fact, commercial catch rates in some areas have been shown to decrease by 40-80% over hundreds of square miles around a single airgun array.7,8


Seismic can be a difficult topic to understand. Thanks to a COA volunteer, we have an infographic to give a visual representation of seismic airgun blasting. Click here to view an enlarged version


[1] Nieukirk, S.L., Stafford, K.M., Mellinger, D.K., Dziak, R.P., and Fox, C.G. 2004. Low frequency whale and seismic airgun sounds recorded in the mid-Atlantic Ocean.  Journal of Acoustical Soc. of America. 115:4:1832-1843.
[2] Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 137: 533-541, 2008
[7] Engås, A., Løkkeborg, S., Ona, E., and Soldal, A.V. 1996. Effects of seismic shooting on local abundance and catch rates of code (Gadus morhua) and haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus). Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 53: 2238-2249.
[8] Skalski, J.R., Pearson, W.H., and Malme, C.I. 1991. Effects of sounds from a geophysical survey device on catch-per-unit-effort in a hook-and-line fishery for rockfish (Sebastes spp.). Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 49: 1357-1365.

18 Hartshorne Drive, Suite 2
Highlands, NJ 07732
Voice: (732) 872-0111
FAX: (732) 872-8041

Charity Navigator, "Your Guide to Intelligent Giving"

A member of Earth Share of New Jersey