Experts warn of dangers of seismic testing off Georgia coastline

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The East Coast is getting some support in Washington after a federal agency gave the green
light to five companies to push for permits to start exploring.

A visit to the University of Georgia’s Marine Education Center and Aquarium on Skidaway Island can give you an up-close look at the marine life off the coast of the peach state–but that marine life could be negatively impacted if seismic testing is adopted from Delaware to Florida.

The use of sound waves to find oil and gas can be much more than a nuisance to marine mammals. According to experts, the right whale, which uses Georgia’s coastal waters for calving, could really suffer if seismic blasting becomes are reality off the coast.

Dr. Tara Cox, a professor of marine biology at Savannah State University explains. “They might be some of the most susceptible because their hearing is in that low-frequency range that the seismic will be working in and they calf right off our coast.”

And the right whale is Georgia’s official marine mammal.

Dr. Cox shares some of the specifics of the potential harm. “That can be anywhere from displacing them from their important habitat or distracting them from feeding, all the way up to potential injury. There can be effects on plankton, fish, and marine mammals.”

Dr. Clark Alexander is the director of UGA’s Skidaway Institute of Oceanography and he specializes in geology.

He says there doesn’t appear to be vast pockets of oil beneath Atlantic along the East coast. “Given the current estimates and our understanding right now is that there is very little oil and perhaps there’s some amount of gas out there, but given the amounts that we’re talking about I personally don’t believe that it’s a reasonable trade-off.”

“This is the first step along a multi-step process that leads to the production of oil.”

And Dr. Cox adds, “Why should Georgians care? This is just the first step and do we want to have the potential for an oil spill in our estuaries, which are so important to so many aspects of our lives?”

And now six major aquariums have come together to join the growing chorus of voices who want to stand against the idea of seismic blasting in oil and natural gas exploration off the East Coast, which includes the coast of Georgia.

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