Could right whales be driven to extinction by a new order from the Obama Administration? Environmentalists say the administration may have sold out the species to oil company interests. Only 500 of the highly-intelligent, social mammals are known to exist in the world. They make seasonal migrations up and down the east coast of the United States.
Oil companies want to explore areas offshore for oil. Many of these grounds have been drilled before, but industry officials say new technology could find reserves in areas once believed to be dry.
A new sonic gun will create massive shock waves that will travel through the water, and through the sea bed. These guns will fire every ten seconds, 24 hours a day, for over a year.
Whales, dolphins and other marine animals depend on sound for navigation and communication. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management estimates over 138,000 marine mammals could be injured or killed by the order. Sonic guns are powerful enough to kill eggs or larvae in areas they are used. They can also cause temporary or permanent hearing loss in whales and dolphins.
Exploration was due to begin in 2011, but the plan was delayed after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. Environmentalists were given until 2017 before sonic guns would be put into operation.
The Interior Department, under President Obama, has recommended the use of the guns by oil producers now.
The blasts could endanger not just the marine mammals, but hundreds of thousands of jobs along the coast, as well.
Jacqueline Savitz of Oceana said, “By failing to consider relevant science, the Obama administration’s decision could be a death sentence for many marine mammals, needlessly turning the Atlantic Ocean into a blast zone. If seismic airguns are allowed in the Atlantic, it will jeopardize wildlife as well as commercial and recreational fisheries, tourism and coastal recreation — putting more than 730,000 jobs in the blast zone at risk.”
Petroleum company executives are praising the decision. With this decision from the Obama Administration, the fate of the right whale is now in the hands of the oil corporations.
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