WDC welcomes today’s announcement by the US Bureau of Ocean Energy and Management (BOEM) denying six pending permits applications to conduct seismic testing along the mid-Atlantic and Southeast US coastlines. Just last month, WDC celebrated President Obama’s decision to permanently protection areas in the northeast Atlantic from offshore drilling. However, WDC remained concerned about the potential for seismic testing along the southeast US, the only known calving habitat for the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale. The loud pulsing sounds produced 24 hours a day are known to harass, harm, and even kill whales and dolphins.
Fewer than 500 North Atlantic right whales remain, and their survival is constantly threatened by human activity. In 2016, WDC and its conservation partners worked to get nearly 40,000 square miles of coastline designated as critical habitat for the species. However, the looming threat of seismic testing and its impact on right whales remained. Man-made noise increases stress hormones in right whales which can impact their ability to reproduce and lower their immune systems.
Emerging research underscores the critical role North Atlantic right whales play in the ecosystem by supplying nutrients to phytoplankton which produces most of the world’s oxygen and is the base on which fish stocks depend. According to Regina Asmutis-Silvia, WDC NA executive director, “To adequately protect right whales, we must protect their homes and to adequately protect this planet, we must protect its whales. Today’s announcement is not only a win for right whales, but for humans too.”