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Join Ethan Hawke- Help Save Right Whales & Save The Gulf of Saint Lawrence
We need your help. Please sign Sierra Club Canada’s letter and share this message to get our leaders to finally hear the deafening blasts that whales endure every single minute of every day when seismic blasting is happening.
A national and grassroots non-profit organization committed to protecting our environment, communities, and future
For immediate release: May 9th, 2019
Ethan Hawke Lending His Voice to Film, New Campaign to Protect Whales and Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Halifax, NS – Starchild Production’s new film The Vanishing Call of the Right Whale featuring Ethan Hawke and Dr. Linda Weilgart will premiere on May 14th in Halifax, NS. The film will kick off a new campaign to protect endangered whales in Canadian waters from the impacts of seismic blasting.
WHO: Save Our Seas and Shores, Sierra Club Canada Foundation, Starchild Productions, Sierra Club US, Clean Ocean Action Committee
WHAT: The Vanishing Call of the Right Whale Film Screening & Campaign Launch.
WHERE: Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Windsor Foundation Theatre (Granville St. Entrance), Halifax NS
WHEN: 10:30 AM – 12:00 NOON, Tuesday May 14th, 2019
Please note Ethan Hawke will not be attending this event.
For more information, please contact:
Mary Gorman, Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition, email@example.com 902-759-5963
Gretchen Fitzgerald, Sierra Club Canada Foundation, firstname.lastname@example.org 902-444-7096
Mary Gorman of the Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition (SOSS), speaks passionately for protecting the Gulf of St. Lawrence at Pa’qtnkek Water Ceremony with Ethan Hawke, October 26, 2015.
- Credit: Andrea Schaffer via Flickr
After four years of research by the St. Lawrence Coalition, Gulf 101 – Oil in the Gulf of St. Lawrence: Facts, Myths, and Future Outlook was released last week (June 10th 2014) in tandem with World Oceans Week. The report explores the facts and myths surrounding oil exploration and exploitation in the Gulf as well as possible future scenarios that may result from these activities.
The 80-page report highlights our lack of understanding towards the ecosystems within the Gulf as well as the oceans currents and other environmental components found there. The environment of the Gulf is subject to conditions that are not seen in other areas of oil development such as winter ice that would make cleaning up an oil spill almost impossible, threatening the destruction of the slowly recovering cod stocks as well as the currently thriving fisheries and tourism industries that so many communities depend on.
The report provides true insight for why Save Our Seas and Shores and the St. Lawrence Coalition asks you to lend your support to a moratorium on oil and gas in the Gulf. Go here to take action!
The Gulf 101 Report generated massive media attention in all five Gulf provinces. Here is a selection:
Prince Edward Island:
CBC News Montreal (online): http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/moratorium-on-gulf-of-st-lawrence-oil-exploration-sought-1.2669637 (June 9)
Go hear to read the Press Release on the report from the David Suzuki Foundation:
Man-made noise in the oceans may have significant damaging effects on shellfish populations, according to a new international study.
This University of St. Andrews in Scotland press release below describes the study:
A team of researchers from the Scottish Oceans Institute at the University of St Andrews, Scotland, the University of La Laguna, Canary Islands and the University of Auckland, New Zealand, found that marine invertebrates, such as shellfish, suffered significant body malformations after being exposed to noise.
The team conducted a sound playback experiment on New Zealand scallop larvae, comparing their development to a control group kept in quiet conditions. The results show that the exposed scallops suffered significant development delays, with 46% of them developing body abnormalities, while no malformations were found in the controlled larvae.
The strong impacts observed in the experiment suggest that abnormalities and growth delays could also occur at lower noise levels in the wild, suggesting routine underwater sounds from oil exploration and construction could affect the survival of wild scallops.
Team leader, Dr Aguilar de Soto, from the University of St Andrews and the University of La Laguna said:
Nobody knew that noise exposure could affect the growth of animals so dramatically so it was a real surprise to discover malformations in these microscopic larvae. What is actually going wrong inside the cells is still a mystery that we need to investigate. Shellfish larvae go through radical body changes as they grow and noise seems to disrupt this natural process.
Fishermen worldwide complain about reductions in captures follow seismic surveys used for oil explorations. Our results suggest that noise could be one factor explaining delayed effects on stocks?
MASTS (Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland) senior research fellow Dr Mark Johnson of St Andrews said:
Between shipping, construction and oil explorations, we are making more and more noise in the oceans. There is already concern about the possible effects of this on whales and dolphins. Our results show that even small animals could be affected by noise. It is important to find out what noise levels are safe for shellfish to help reduce our impact on these key links in the food chain?
The full report is published in the Nature Publishing Group journal, Scientific Reports.
This 32 page report presents the Gulf of St. Lawrence as a unique marine ecosystem that features complex oceanographic processes and also maintains a high biological diversity of marine life. The information provided covers physical systems such as the properties of water, physical oceanography and geological components. The biological aspects include descriptions of macrophytic, planktonic and benthic communities, reptiles, fish, marine birds and mammals. There is also a discussion on the human components such as settlement, industrial activity and governance. By providing relevant information in this format the report highlights the challenge of managing multiple human activities within the context of a dynamic, diverse and unique marine ecosystem. It was produced by Fisheries and Oceans Canada in 2005.
Are blasting airguns jeopardizing Atlantic Ocean’s ecosystem?
by Robert Devet
Halifax Media Co-op
November 21, 2013
K’JIPUKTUK, HALIFAX – Nova Scotia’s offshore oil and gas production is on the upswing. Natural gas is flowing from the Deep Panuke natural gas field on the Scotian Shelf.
And now there are two new kids on the block. This time it’s oil they are after.
Shell Canada spent the summer mapping the geology of a large area in the Shelburne Basin about 300 kilometers south east of Halifax. Next summer BP Exploration (Canada) will follow suit.
Shell for one is happy with the results of its discovery effort. “The initial indication is that the data we’re seeing looks really good,” Shell spokesperson Larry Lalonde told the Chronicle Herald in early September of this year. “We’re quite excited about what we are seeing.”
But local environmental activists are worried. And the concern is not just about spills like the one we saw in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. Concerns emerge even in this early discovery stage when geologists are determining how much oil there really is, and where exactly that oil can be found.
Problem is, that discovery process is a very noisy affair.
Seismic testing involves the use of airguns fired from moving ships. The airguns generate loudblasts below the ocean’s surface approximately every 20 seconds. The nature of the resulting seismic waves allow geologists to map the geological strata below the ocean floor.
Many environmentalists believe that the noise generated by airguns, almost as loud as dynamite explosions, has a profoundly negative effect on fish, sea turtles and whales in the seismic testing area.
Lindy Weilgart, a Dalhousie University research associate in Biology, has studied the effects of seismic testing on marine wildlife since she was a postdoctoral fellow at Cornell University.
“When the airgun is fired you actually see a bubble coming to the surface, air is released under incredibly high pressure, and with a very sharp onset,” says Weilgart. “One shot, and if you don’t have ear protectors on you can go deaf.”
Weilgart is not just worried that sea creatures find themselves too close to the airguns and suffer permanent hearing damage. There are other reasons why seismic testing is particularly hard on ocean dwellers, says Weilgart.
Although under water sound drops off faster, it carries much further than it does on land. The sound of the airguns can be heard as far as 4,000 kilometers away. Combine that with how crucial sound is for fish and sea mammals, and you have a big problem.
“Often it is the quiet signals that are important,” says Weilgart. “For instance, fin whales have to listen for the sounds of potential mates, to meet up. For them it could mean the difference between a mating opportunity or not.”
And not just whales. Weilgart mentions studies that show that fish make very poor decisions about handling their prey when in a noisy environment. Even squid are affected.
The impact of seismic testing on ocean wildlife is complex. Weilgart gives example after example to drive home this point.
“We have to look at it in the way the animal experiences it, we have to be animal-centric,” says Weilgart. And behaviour isn’t always a good indicator of what is really going on.
“Sometimes the most vulnerable and most desperate of the individuals will stay, not because they aren’t bothered by the seismic testing, but because they can’t afford to leave, they don’t have the luxury,” says Weilgart.
Sea creatures are not just facing this one seismic survey, they are dealing with other noise sources as well, says Weilgart. Ships, the bow thrusters of oil platforms, the seismic ships themselves make noise.
Then there is stress caused by overfishing and loss of prey, climate change and warming of the oceans, acidification, the list goes on.
Environmental approval for this summer’s seismic testing by Shell was granted by the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board, an independent joint federal-provincial agency that regulates all offshore oil and gas activities.
It’s written approval of this summer’s seismic testing effort states that it is not likely to result in significant adverse environmental effects, especially given the precautionary measures to which Shell has committed.
Those precautionary measures consist of independent monitors who travel on board of the ships and watch for whales and turtles, and sensors that pick up sounds made by whales below the ocean surface. Work stops immediately when there is any sign that such ocean wildlife is present.
Mark Butler, Policy Director at the Ecology Action Centre in Halifax, does not think that is good enough.
What monitors are able to observe is just the tip of the iceberg, Butler says. Thick fog and big waves can make it very difficult to see a tail flick somewhere in that vast expanse of ocean.
Butler is also not happy that the exploration by Shell was taking place during the summer. He believes that it is better to stop seismic testing during sensitive periods.
“People don’t realize how much life comes into our waters in the spring and summer to feed, it’s like a highway out there,” says Butler.
This is why Butler asked that Shell postpone the seismic testing until later in the year, but Shell refused, arguing that the project was already approved and that bad weather in winter was too much of a risk to the crew.
“If you are striving, as some would perhaps suggest, for no environmental impact than there would be no man-made activities on land or on sea,” says Stuart Pinks, CEO of the Offshore Petroleum Board.
“But the purpose of the environmental assessment is to make sure that there is no significant adverse impact and to minimize any impact that has been identified to the lowest extent possible,” Pinks says.
Minimizing impact may be a matter of degree, but for Weilgart we’re not cautious enough.
“You can’t keep asking the animal to adapt, there is not enough luxury and play in the system,” says Weilgart. “The oceans are not doing well, and now you are throwing this at them.”
“At the very minimum you have to be precautionary.”
Follow Robert Devet on Twitter @DevetRobert