LETTER: More dead whales in New Zealand

The Greenville News
February 15, 2017

My opinion editorial, ‘The “scientific” effect of seismic testing is death’ ran in The Greenville News Jan. 10.  Seismic testing is the process of large vessels exploring for oil deposits using airgun blasting.

One seismic vessel can tow up to 96 airguns that can cover an area 21 times larger than the National Mall in Washington, D.C. These blasts are repeated every 10-12 seconds and are one of the loudest noises in the ocean that can be heard for thousands of miles under water. Seismic testing of an area can go on for up to an entire year.

I argued that the seismic testing that began in the waters of New Zealand on Nov. 13 had resulted in dead whales on remote beaches of that island nation by the end of December.  Whales primarily rely on hearing for navigation, feeding and mating. Had the Obama Administration not denied permits for seismic testing along the Atlantic Coast, we could have potentially had similar results.  Dead marine mammals on our heavily populated beaches would drive tourists away and severely harm our local economies.

Last week the news from New Zealand got even worse – over 600 pilot whales stranded on an isolated beach on the country’s Farewell Spit in close proximity to the seismic testing taking place.  Most of the whales were dead or dying.

A local marine biologist said that seismic testing, of all the theories offered for this worst stranding in a century, was the most likely cause.

With a new administration we can expect the oil and seismic testing industry to push again for permits to bring their devastating ocean blasting to our shore.  The same alliance of businesses, residents, conservation groups and coastal local governments that successfully turned back seismic testing permits last month will again stand up to protect our Atlantic Coast tourism, commercial fishing and recreation local economies.

Frank Knapp Jr.

The writers is President and CEO of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce and Co-founder of the Business Alliance for Protecting the Atlantic Coast.


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