New Zealanders have witnessed more than 100 distressed pilot whales stranded in recent weeks, not far from where oil exploration companies have been ceaselessly firing sonic booms to map the seafloor. Around 103 of the whales couldn't be saved, despite tireless efforts by volunteers to comfort and refloat the highly social creatures.
Local conservationists are calling for
urgent research into the impact of seismic survey activity on whales -- something the government should have done anyway before granting licenses to the oil companies.
The New Zealand government is sticking by its oily friends for now, but we know they monitor the country's green image closely, and rely heavily on it for tourism and exports. That's why an international outcry could tip the government in favour of the whales.
Tell the New Zealand government to halt all seismic testing and launch an independent study on its effects.
The seismic surveying methods used during oil and gas exploration generate exceedingly loud sounds which may travel large distances through water.
New Zealand government has allowed an unprecedented amount of seismic testing for deep sea oil to take place in its waters this year, particularly by Norwegian company Statoil. It has happily granted permits to test in marine mammal reserves -- including off the West Coast of the North Island, inside a sanctuary intended to protect the highly-endangered Maui's dolphin.
Seismic testing is the first step of oil exploration. It is done from a ship firing off repeated sound blasts every few seconds, day and night sometimes over weeks or months.
The blasts, created by large underwater air guns, generate a pressure wave that penetrates the seafloor and the reflected sound waves are then recorded by an array of sensors dragged on long cables after the ship. The seismic explosions can be heard over 100kms away.
This must stop. We know we need to leave 80% of known fossil fuels in the ground if we are to prevent dangerous runaway climate change. There is absolutely no justification for exploring for new sources of oil -- especially when they could contribute to putting at risk the health of whales and dolphins who are already struggling to survive in our changing climate.
We only have one planet, so we need to look after it together. That's why we're supporting local resistance against corporate destruction from the tar sands of Canada to the shores of New Zealand.
Sign the petition to halt seismic testing for deep sea oil off the New Zealand coast.
Calls for more seismic testing research after whale strandings, TVNZ, January 24 2015
Did seismic testing for oil contribute to the mass whale stranding on Farewell Spit?, Greenpeace New Zealand, February 14 2015
Terrifying and Destructive to Whales and Dolphins: A Glimpse Into the Reality of Seismic Exploration, Huffington Post, December 11 2013