Exploration of the deep biosphere is likely to become the most challenging mega environmental issue of our time. Billions of dollars are being outlaid by the oil and gas conglomerates in investment, research, exploration and surveys seeking the treasure in the seabed.

The ramifications of this massive investment in dollars and energy must be seen in the context of a global marine holocaust. Seismic surveys and subsequent exploration can only add to the potentially deadly burden of threats facing all marine environments. Global warming, military sonar, over-fishing, pollution, disease, and an exponential increase in noise create a moral and political injunction for adopting the Precautionary Principle as the driving force in making relevant decisions.

marine topography

Marine topography refers to the shape the land has when it interfaces with the ocean. These shapes are obvious along coastlines, but they occur also in significant ways underwater. The effectiveness of marine habitats is partially defined by these shapes, including the way they interact with and shape ocean currents, and the way sunlight diminishes when these landforms occupy increasing depths.
IMAGE: Map of underwater topography (1995 NOAA)

Because humanity needs healthy oceans to survive; because oil and gas interests are so huge – with unlimited dollars and political influence – any guidelines relating to seismic activities deserve the closest inspection. The lack of adequate baseline data on most cetaceans must be countered by a mature recognition of our lack of adequate knowledge combined with the extent and scope of possible problems inherent in introducing more noise into the ocean environment

A quick search on the internet demonstrates the tip of a pretty big iceberg in terms of global concern over seismic operations in the marine environment.

  • A judgment against the use of air guns used by Columbia University researchers in Gulf of California ruled they were likely to have disrupted marine mammal life in the vicinity and noted that whale beaching occurred some 30-50 miles from source.
  • The small highly endangered population of Western Pacific Gray Whale, which now numbers around 100 animals, conflicts with the Sakhalin oil and gas project. The International Whaling Commission has identified seismic operations as a cause of the impending demise of the species.
  • In Norway, there’s uproar over the recent Norwegian government decision to open the Barents Sea to oil exploration. Norwegian researchers, according to newspaper reports, say that the impacts of seismic will be dramatic in the Barents Sea. Fishermen in the North of Norway speak of the experience of a “ Black Sea” during seismic activities.