According to data from a recent study, research for oil drilling in the Atlantic could decimate key species in the ocean food chain.
It is that these surveys are carried out through seismic surveys, that is, through a process of explosion of submerged air guns to locate oil and gas deposits, which cause shock waves that have a deadly effect on zooplankton, a source of critical food For numerous marine species.
According to the report published this week in the journal Nature, these processes could pose a “significant and unrecognized” threat to oceanic ecosystems, including fish, whales and marine animals that feed on zooplankton, the researchers said.
Researchers at Australian Curtin University and the University of Tasmania reported that the explosions of a single seismic air gun killed a large amount of adult and larval zooplankton within 24 hours after exposure, reducing their abundance by 50% Of the species observed.
The study was released just two weeks after the US federal agency, the National Marine Fisheries Service, issued licenses that allow companies to conduct seismic surveys along the East Coast – fulfilling one of Trump’s promises to expand drilling Oil and Gas.
Most troubling is that although this study points to the potentially devastating impacts that seismic prospecting may have on exposed zooplankton populations, it is only a small sample of what can actually happen. The effects of the explosions reported in this study were for a single 24-hour air gun, but companies that received permits from the US federal agency may use vessels that fire 20 to 40 air guns simultaneously and each 10 seconds.
In addition to decimate food from all marine fauna, these seismic explosions affect the marine animals themselves, by the intense and dynamic noise emitted by air gun explosions. For Francine Kershaw, a marine and ocean scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, “to allow this devastating activity – in the face of strong evidence of its impact – is to sacrifice our oceans and coastal communities for the profits of the oil and gas industry.”
By 2015, 75 marine scientists warned that the seismic survey of the US East Coast would likely have “significant, long-lasting and widespread impacts” on the survival of fish and marine mammal populations in the area.