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Seismic testing can cause harm to marine life

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Oceana, an international conservation group warned that seismic testing for oil and gas along the Atlantic coast states could cause widespread harm to marine life, as well as to fishing and tourism.

Oceana said the federal government’s environmental impact statement estimates that 138,500 whales and dolphins could be injured if seismic "air guns", which generate blasts of noise more intense than a jet, are used to explore for oil and gas.

“Serious effects to hearing can kill whales and dolphins that critically depend on their ability to hear in order to feed, navigate and care for their young”, said Matthew Huelsenbeck, report author and marine scientist at Oceana. “Air gun blasts threaten marine life of all sizes and 730,000 East Coast jobs that depend on a healthy ocean”.

The Department of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is analyzing applications to conduct offshore seismic testing from Delaware to Florida. Officials say the testing could update previous estimates that there are 1.9 billion barrels of oil and 21.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas recoverable off the mid-and South Atlantic coast.

Oceana is urging federal officials to deny the applications, or limit testing and require a less disruptive testing method.

According to Oceana, seismic air guns are also associated with habitat destruction and oil spills which contribute to climate change and ocean acidification.

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