Environmental Issues > Oceans Main Page > All Oceans Documents

For offshore exploration, the oil and gas industry typically relies on arrays of airguns towed behind ships. Although most of the energy from these acoustic “shots” is intended to search downward for evidence of oil and gas deep beneath the seafloor, a significant amount of the energy travels outwards and can be heard throughout vast areas of the ocean. The environmental problems created by these noise invasions are not fully understood, but we do know that these intense sounds threaten the habitats of endangered whales and commercial fisheries. Seismic surveys have been shown to disrupt essential behavior in endangered whales and cause catch rates of some commercial fish to plummet. To mitigate these impacts, NRDC recommends that airguns be kept out of sensitive areas and that greener alternatives be promoted, some of which are already well into development and could be made commercially available within a few years.

last revised 6/7/2010

Sign up for NRDC's online newsletter

See the latest issue >

Donate to NRDC

Oceans on Switchboard

NRDC experts write about the growing risks to the health of our oceans on the NRDC blog.


Recent Oceans Posts

Unique and endangered: Why we need to protect the Gulf of Mexico's Bryde's whales now
posted by Sylvia Fallon, 9/18/14
Even in Deepwater Canyons, America's Corals At Risk
posted by Ali Chase, 8/18/14
"No Blue, No Green" -- New Sylvia Earle Film Shows Power of Protecting Our Oceans
posted by Frances Beinecke, 8/15/14

NRDC Gets Top Ratings from the Charity Watchdogs

Charity Navigator awards NRDC its 4-star top rating.
Worth magazine named NRDC one of America's 100 best charities.
NRDC meets the highest standards of the Wise Giving Alliance of the Better Business Bureau.


Donate now >

Share | |
Find NRDC on
YouTube