Save The Whales' purpose is to educate children
and adults about marine mammals, their
environment and their preservation.
U R G E N T
SEISMIC TESTING COULD
BEGIN BY NOVEMBER 1
OFF CALIFORNIA COAST
Thousands of Marine Mammals
Could be Harmed and Killed
|Photograph of Stranded Fin Whale |
by Nic Slocum
Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) has been given permission by the California State Lands Commission to begin seismic testing as soon as November 1 over a large area off the Central Coast of California, from Cambria to the Santa Maria River and continue until the end of the year. The research ship would emit loud blasts of piercing noise into the ocean. Streamers four or five miles long would be towed behind the vessel and pick up the sound waves as they penetrate several miles into the Earth's crust and reverberate back to the surface.
PG&E states that tests are essential in the aftermath of the Fukushima earthquake in Japan and subsequent tsunami, and the potential for a nuclear disaster. Construction on Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant began in 1968 and was completed in 1973. It was built directly over a geological fault line, and is located near a second fault. It was originally designed to withstand a 6.75 magnitude earthquake from four faults, including the nearby San Andreas and Hosgri faults, and was later upgraded to withstand a 7.5 magnitude quake. It has redundant seismic monitoring and a safety system designed to shut it down promptly in the event of significant ground motion.
The oil and gas industry uses arrays of airguns which release intense impulses of compressed air into the water about once every 10 to 12 seconds. These seismic surveys have a staggering environmental footprint. A large seismic array can produce sounds with pressures higher than those of virtually any other man-made source besides explosives. The director of Cornell's Bioacoustics Research Program once described these surveys as possibly "the most severe acoustic insult to the marine environment." The new and destructive testing
will not prevent an earthquake nor a tsunami.
Tests would last 24 hours for 33 days and would kill or injure marine mammals (some of them endangered species), including whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals and otters. A deaf marine mammal is a dead one as this is the sense they rely on to communicate, navigate and find food. Seabirds and other species such as endangered sea turtles, could be affected as well, with little or no way of mitigating the impacts. Fishermen are concerned about the detrimental effects on their livelihood.
See the estimated numbers of animals from the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) in the right-hand column that could be considered "take." Take could mean anything from harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct. Harm is defined by NMFS to include significant habitat modification or degradation that results in death or injury to listed species by significantly impairing essential behavioral patterns, including breeding, feeding, or sheltering. Incidental take is defined as take that is incidental to, and not the purpose of, carrying out of an otherwise lawful activity. Many of the animals are endangered species in ostensibly protected areas such as MPAs (Marine Protected Areas) where animals are supposed to be legally protected.
There is no way of knowing if an impact means an animal is killed outright or, in the case of a whale, dolphin or porpoise, dies later from hearing loss or environment impact. It is feared that testing could seriously damage a small population of harbor porpoises in the Morro Bay area. This species is most sensitive to loud man-made sound and is the mammal most vulnerable to habitat abandonment and hearing loss.
Nuclear energy, with its dangerous weak spots, should be phased out. Japan announced in September 2012 that it intends to stop using nuclear power by the 2030s. This is a major shift from goals that were set prior to the Fukushima disaster.
The United States needs to also move away from these dangerous plants and not allow devastating tests to occur off of California's Central Coast.
If you want to add your voice in protest, please sign our petition.
This is an extra step you can take and phone calls are very meaningful.
In addition to sending an email, you can make a call to:
State Senator Sam Blakeslee, R-San Luis Obispo,
Be polite and respectful.
Seismic testing and the potential killing of thousands of animals is unacceptable. Diablo Nuclear Power Plant presents a grave danger to everyone. Plans need to be commenced for its removal.
Thank you for helping with this critical issue.
Maris Sidenstecker I
Executive Director, Save The Whales
501(c)(3) nonprofit organization
Save The Whales
Voted Top-Rated Nonprofit 2012
Estimated Numbers of Animals that Could be Affected by Seismic Testing
2 sperm whales,
5 dwarf sperm whales,
13 humpback whales,
15 blue whales,
25 fin whales,
97 California gray whales,
1 short-finned pilot whale,
3 Baird's beaked whales,
8 striped dolphins,
8 small-beaked whales,
81 Dall's por-
82 long-beaked white-sided dolphins,
1,834 short-beaked dolphins,
78 harbor seals,
1,062 California sea lions,
1,485 southern sea otters, and
untold sea turtles, numerous fish and bird species.
(Figures from National Marine Fisheries Service)
California has completed a science-based statewide network of marine reserves. These Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are under- water safe havens within the marine environment for the benefit of present and future generations and havens for ocean creatures all along the California coast. They were designed to help protect the significant natural and cultural resources within the marine environment.
With the addition of California's north coast MPAs, the last link in a system of 100 undersea spots stretches from Mexico to Oregon.
Death in Peru
In March-April of this year, over 3,000 dead dolphins washed up on the beaches near Lima, Peru. A possible cause for this large number of deaths is acoustic testing using arrays of airguns which are towed behind ships and release intense impulses of com- pressed air into the water.
The International Whaling Commission Scientific Committee noted "... repeated and persistent acoustic insults over a large area...should be considered enough to cause population level impacts." (IWC 2004)
Join Save The Whales
You may join online or contribute here.
For checks, mail to
1192 Waring St.
Seaside, CA 93955