Offshore seismic surveys are an advanced exploration technique used to locate potential oil and natural gas reserves hidden below the ocean floor.   They are used around the world without harm to marine mammals and other sea life.

Why are seismic surveys important?
The last surveys of the Atlantic OCS took place about 30 years ago. Since that time, technological advances have dramatically improved our ability to pinpoint likely reservoirs, which makes existing resource estimates in that area out of date.

Today, seismic surveys using modern technology produce sub-surface images which are much clearer than those from decades ago. New surveys using state-of-the-art techniques and technology would provide a better understanding of the oil and natural gas resource potential in the Atlantic OCS.


Do seismic surveys harm marine creatures?
Counter to what many environmental groups have said, seismic surveys do not cause harm to marine populations.  World-wide seismic surveying activity and scientific research related chiefly to marine mammals have shown no evidence that sound from seismic activities has resulted in physical or auditory injury to any marine mammal species. Likewise, there is no scientific evidence demonstrating biologically significant adverse impacts on marine mammal populations.

As said by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), seismic surveys in the Atlantic OCS “should not cause any deaths or injuries to the hearing of marine mammal[s] or sea turtles.”

Nevertheless, the industry implements mitigation measures to further reduce the negligible risk of harm to marine mammals. Mitigation measures are standard operating procedures designed to minimize impacts to marine life.

Trained marine mammal observers are onboard to watch for animals. Operations stop if a marine mammal enters an “exclusion zone” around the operation and are not restarted until the zone is allclear for at least 30 minutes.

When starting a seismic survey, operators use a rampup procedure that gradually increases the sound level being produced, allowing animals to leave the area if the sound level becomes uncomfortable.

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