Seismic testing is a dark, dirty and destructive secret happening beneath Australian waters, out of sight and mind of the everyday person. Were the same amount of unaccountable destruction happening on terrestrial Australia there would be riots in the street. However, the silent world beneath the waves is suffering devastation without reason and without much regulation on environmental impacts, other than by the very same people who are carrying it out (the fox is quite literally in charge of the chook shed).
Seismic testing is used to locate gas and oil reserves deep below the ocean floor. It involves an air gun that creates a 256-decibel blasts. This is the equivalent of 4,000 jet engines at 50 metres. In fact, 256 decibels is no longer a sound, it’s more a massive pulse of energy and it kills marine life. The blasts go off every 10 seconds non-stop, day and night, often for months on end while a survey ship completes a grid patten of the title area. The sound waves sicken and kill many marine creatures. Every blast kills most of the zooplankton within a 1 to 2 km range of the air gun. Zooplankton includes the suspended eggs and juvenile stages of many marine species; it is the foundation of marine life and biodiversity of the ocean. With the tides moving across the survey area, the number of zooplankton exposed to the blast is increased exponentially, a bit like a conveyor belt, creating vast tracks of dead spots across the ocean.
Seismic blasting damages the balance in mature cray fish, leaving them prone to predators if/when they fall onto their backs. It kills scallops, although not immediately, it takes a few weeks for them to die. There is plenty of scientific evidence that it interferes with the feeding, migration and breeding of whales, dolphins & pelagic fish. It has been linked with whales standings. The problem is that no one knows the full extent of the damage that is done by seismic blasting and that suits our Government and the Gas Companies just nicely.
If this tragedy was happening on land it would be totally intolerable and rejected by the Australian people. Legislation (EPBC Act) and the ‘Precautionary Principal” would not allow the ambiguity of “not knowing the full extent of the damage” as an excuse to continue. But this doesn’t protect our ocean from ignorance and greed.
To add insult to injury, we don’t need to find new gas. Australia has enough known gas in reserve to see us past 2050 and that includes export and domestic requirements. With global pressure to be carbon neutral by 2050 the gas they are searching for now, will never reach production.
Our governments are not listening to the science, they are listening to their mates in the gas industry. Please get involved and let all your friends and relatives know about the “Seismic Secret” and join up with OCEAN to stop seismic testing in the Otway Basin.
The senate has launched an enquiry into Seismic Testing.
You can read the submissions here:
The full Senate Report is now available here:
Stay tuned for further information on gas drilling in the Otway Basin and the impacts of seismic blasting.
Looking to better understand renewable energy options?
Find out more here from our partner organisation
Southern Otways Sustainable.