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Posted Fri Oct 12 2012: from New York Times:
Will Seismic Blasts Upend Atlantic Marine Life?
The tests are to be performed by a vessel that trails evenly spaced hydrophones in its wake as compressed air is blasted downward by the vessel's airgun. The resulting sound waves, as high as 250 decibels, are far greater than the sound emitted by a jet engine upon takeoff, Oceana notes. Once the sound waves hit the ocean floor, the hydrophones register echoes that reflect the densities of materials like gas and oil within the seabed.... The intensity and reach of the noise will not only drive some marine animals away and disrupt their feeding patterns, Oceana argues, but could damage or destroy their hearing. This is particularly worrisome for whales, which do not have sharp eyesight and depend heavily on their hearing. Without it, "they can't navigate, they can't function," Mr. Huelsenbeck said. "They keep contact with others based on their calls." Animals like whales decline slowly once their hearing is gone, making it difficult to link a death directly with the seismic tests, he added.
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