What lies 160 miles off the coast of Charleston, is 85 miles long and is ½ mile below the ocean surface?
Until a few days ago no one could answer that question because it was just discovered by ocean scientists.
Ocean ecologist Erik Cordes described his newly discovered deep sea coral reef as “unbelievable” and an ecosystem that he has never seen before in spite of all his work in the Gulf.
“This is a huge feature…It’s incredible that it stayed hidden off the U.S. East Coast for so long.”
Here are questions for the Trump Administration and all the federal agencies with the responsibilities of approving seismic testing in the Atlantic to explore for oil and the subsequent approval of offshore drilling.
Would this huge swath of the Atlantic be off limits to seismic airgun blasting and drilling? After all, such a coral habitat is critical to our Atlantic Coast fisheries. We know that research has shown that seismic airgun blasting drives fish away from reefs. And what about the coral itself? Can this rather fragile living organism survive the onslaught of seismic air cannons even if not fired from directly above?
Are there deteriorating cannisters of toxic materials of conventional and chemical weapons as well as drums of radioactive waste, that we know have been dumped in the Atlantic, scattered throughout this coral reef? Even if we held this coral reef off limits to exploration, what if these toxic materials made their way to this area from nearby dump sites disturbed by seismic airgun blasts?
If off limits to offshore drilling, how would we protect this valuable coral reef from the inevitable oil leaks and spills from approved drilling in other areas of the Atlantic?
Probably the most important question of all: What else is out there that we don’t know about?
Sure, Big Oil and seismic testing companies want to know what possible oil reserves are in the Atlantic and that’s why they want to airbomb the ocean floor. But they care little about what else is out there that might be destroyed.
The marine life—mammals, fish, crustaceans, corral, etc.—hold no value to these exploiters of the ocean’s resources that belong to all of us. All are just collateral damage to the pursuit of profits.
Frank Knapp Jr.