The Sept. 19 news article “ Seismic surveys could soon disturb dolphins” begs readers to draw the conclusion that seismic surveying is detrimental to marine life.
Seismic surveying is used to map the ocean floor and evaluate potential subsurface energy resources. The National Science Foundation, the nation’s leading scientific organization, is using the same seismic surveying techniques off North Carolina’s coast for research on the movement of the earth’s crust. The same surveying will help us update decades-old data showing our offshore waters hold significant energy reserves.
Recent technology allows for precise, 3-D imaging and high-quality data, which are credited for some of the biggest oil discoveries in the last 20 years. Safe and responsible resource development depends on accurate 3-D mapping.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has issued stringent seismic surveying requirements that include mitigation measures, having invested more than $50 million in research to ensure that the technique is as safe as possible.
In addition to requiring whale watchers on every vessel and the closure of habitats during birthing season, the practices include ramp-ups of the sound to allow time for animals to leave the area, special closure areas to protect the North Atlantic right whale and a prohibition of surveying when marine mammals and turtles are close.
EPA recognizes these procedures to be sufficient mitigating practices.
Donald R. van der Vaart
Deputy secretary and energy policy adviser, N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources