Over 50 years of worldwide seismic surveying activities and scientific research indicate that there is a negligible potential for impacts on zooplankton populations. However, after more than decade of intense scrutiny by hundreds of scientists, there is still no scientific evidence that indicates sound from seismic operations has biologically significant negative impacts on marine animal populations. In the Gulf of Mexico, an area of particularly concentrated seismic surveying activity, zooplankton populations are thriving and support a robust marine ecosystem. No population level adverse effects to zooplankton have been identified in any area of seismic surveying operation.
The EnerGeo Alliance remains open to all emerging new scientific information. However, we are troubled with the results of the most recent zooplankton study by McCauley et al. which suggests but does not prove the conclusion that seismic survey air sources negatively impact zooplankton. The small sample size, inconsistency in the data and questionable “pruning” of the raw data undermine confidence in the reported values for degree of impact. The results are not consistent with other research on this same topic. The researchers’ conclusion that there is a significant and unacknowledged potential for negative impact to ocean ecosystem function and productivity is pure speculation beyond the data and unsupported by the data.
The United States Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has invested more than $50 million on protected species and noise-related research without finding evidence of adverse effects, and the petroleum and natural gas industry has contributed a comparable amount of research funding on this topic as well with the same findings. At least eight studies have demonstrated no effects on plankton at ranges greater than 10-100 meters, and no studies have demonstrated impacts on plankton abundance at ecologically meaningful scales.
The EnerGeo Alliance and the energy geoscience industry support ongoing efforts to scientifically evaluate whether potential effects exist, utilizing statistically and methodologically sound high quality, independent, peer-reviewed research.
The energy geoscience industry is committed to operating in an environmentally responsible and sustainable manner. Seismic surveying remains the most effective, least intrusive tool for locating petroleum and natural gas resources safely and efficiently. Through the use of seismic survey data, operators are able to minimize the number of exploratory wells drilled and substantially reduce potential environmental impacts.