Marine Airgun Noise Could Cause Turtle Trauma
(Click to enlarge) Green turtle swimming off the coast of Queensland, Australia. (Credit: Kathy Townsend)
Scientists from the University of Exeter are warning of the risks that seismic surveys may pose to sea turtles.
(From Science Daily) — Widely used in marine oil and gas exploration, seismic surveys use airguns to produce sound waves that penetrate the sea floor to map oil and gas reserves. The review, published in the journal Biological Conservation, found that compared to marine mammals and fish, turtles are largely ignored in terms of research attention and are often omitted from policy guidelines designed to mitigate the environmental risks of seismic surveys. Possible ramifications for turtles include behavioural changes and exclusion from critical habitats as well as potential auditory damage, as turtle hearing ranges overlap with airgun frequencies. In addition, turtles are known to become entangled in gear towed behind the survey vessel, which can lead to drowning. Lead author Sarah Nelms from the Centre for Ecology and Conservation at the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus in Cornwall said: “By talking to oil and gas companies, seismic operators and on-board Marine Mammal Observers, as well as academics and conservationists, we had a great opportunity to gather a broad spectrum of opinions, not just one side of the story. This allowed us to access information that was not available in the published literature.” The researchers also examined policy guidelines for the mitigation of risk to marine life in seismic surveys and assessed peer-reviewed literature on the topic.
Read the full article here: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/11/151123101905.htm