The marine wildlife impact from seismic testing

Sea Shepherd on 7th September posted on their website the following item of the devastating and drastic impact that can be brought about to sea mammals right down to plankton from Seismic Testing.

PG&E Seeking Approval for Seismic Testing on California’s Central Coast

Deafening Assault Is Likely to Wipe Out Thousands of Marine Animals, Including Virtually Every Living Being in Point Buchon State Marine Reserve

Aerial view of Diablo Canyon

Aerial view of Diablo Canyon. Photo: Wikipedia

In an effort to continue operating a nuclear plant that sits on known active earthquake faults, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) is seeking permits to engage in seismic testing off the Central Coast of California. According to a PG&E representative at an informational meeting, “the proposal calls for a 240-foot ship to tow a quarter-mile wide array of twenty 250 decibel “air cannons,” along a 90-mile stretch of California’s Central Coast. The cannons will shoot deafening underwater explosions once every twenty seconds, day and night, for 42 days and nights. The region where this devastating assault on wildlife is expected to take place includes the “protected” Point Buchon State Marine Reserve.

The decision occurs at a time when humpback and blue whales have appeared in shockingly large numbers off the California coast to feed on krill. The seismic testing will kill great blue whales, gray whales and others, dolphins, porpoises, seals, sea lions, otters, and fishes. PG&E has offered to buy-off commercial fishermen in the area to compensate for anticipated losses if the plan is allowed to go forth.

Map showing Location of Diablo Canyon Power

Location of Diablo Canyon Power

PG&E plans to produce a 3-D map of the shoreline fault’s deeper regions. Hydrophones in the water and geophones on the seafloor would collect data on the sound as it resonates through sea and earth, and the resulting data is expected to help geologists map the fault. Nothing of this scope and power has ever been done in California waters before and according to the Environmental Impact Report, the toll on marine life from this kind of testing is staggering. In regions where this sort of testing has been done, countless dead marine animals wash ashore for weeks during and after testing, blood dripping from areas such as their eyes, nose, ears or mouth — a sign they have suffered catastrophic internal hemorrhaging.

This seismic testing is expected to yield only moderate mapping results and, according to Fish and Game Commissioner Richard Rogers, would “cleanse the Point Buchon State Marine Reserve of all living marine organisms” including Sperm, Pygmy Sperm, Humpback, California Gray and Great Blue Whales, and many other species of fish and marine mammals, right down to the plankton.

According to independent journalist Dave Gurney on

“Each of these underwater blasts will be at the volume level of a shock wave, that will instantly deafen, maim and possibly kill everything unfortunate enough to be in its path. A 240dB blast is reportedly like being one foot away from the mouth of a large cannon. For a human, your ears, or what’s left of your ears, would probably never stop ringing. The consequences of experiencing this level of sound can only be presumed to be immediate and permanent deafness — if not worse. For sea life, beyond just broken eardrums, the transfer of low-frequency shock waves from water-air-water causes hemorrhaging of lungs and air-sacks, and will result in the death of marine mammals — whales, dolphins, seals, sea lions and otters — and fish.”

The Natural Resources Defence Council also put out a warning stating that the loud blasts could deafen porpoises and other marine animals, which rely heavily upon their sense of hearing for survival.

The Diablo Canyon nuclear plant was built in 1968 at the mouth of a coastal canyon, above the then-unknown Hosgri Fault. In 2008, another previously unknown fault was discovered running along the shoreline. “Our position is that seismic testing is a threat not only to whales, but to all of us, because it allows PG&E to delay removal of the nuclear plant from the earthquake fault,” according to Stop the Diablo Canyon Seismic Testing.


The seismic testing is scheduled to run from early November to early December of this year. Now is the time to contact California state representatives to ensure approval is denied for this ill-conceived plan. Please check back for updates on how you can help.

For more information watch this YouTube video where a Norwegian Fisherman explains how “seismic testing” has affected fish populations which have not returned for 3 years so far.

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