Greenpeace Partners with Marine Researchers to Track Marine Mammal Behavior
by Cassady Craighill
Using the Arctic Sunrise, researchers deploys acoustic monitoring equipment in Atlantic Ocean
For Immediate Release
October 27, 2017
Wilmington, NC – While Greenpeace’s ship, the Arctic Sunrise, traveled to North Carolina from Virginia this week, researchers from the Whale Acoustics Laboratory at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography deployed acoustic monitoring equipment that will help estimate sound exposure levels for marine mammals. This research will help in understanding the impacts of seismic blasting and ocean noise on mammals in the Atlantic Ocean, which the Trump administration plans to open for oil and gas development.
“We’re measuring levels of natural and manmade underwater noise off the eastern seaboard of the United States. The recordings we’re collecting also provide a baseline for year-round marine mammal presence and dive behavior. This study may help determine whether marine mammals like whales and dolphins change their movements or behavior in the presence of noise from seismic survey,” says Josh Jones of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
Greenpeace USA is visiting cities along the East Coast with the Arctic Sunrise inviting people on board to learn about how they can stop seismic blasting and oil drilling in the Atlantic Ocean before it starts. Greenpeace has visited Brooklyn, NY and Norfolk, Virginia on its “Protecting Our Coasts, Our Communities, and Our Climate” Atlantic Coast Ship Tour and will stop this weekend in Wilmington, North Carolina before transiting for a stop in Miami in early November. The tour will also an effort led by allies in the climate justice movement to deliver critical rebuilding supplies to rural communities in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria’s devastating impact to the region. After leaving Wilmington, Greenpeace and UNC Wilmington researchers will take a remotely operated vehicle to explore the Snowy Grouper Wreck Marine Protected Area off the coast of Hatteras Island.
“If President Trump gets his way, offshore oil drilling and production could come to the Atlantic Coast for the first time ever,” said Greenpeace USA Senior Research Specialist Tim Donaghy. “The precursor to offshore oil drilling, seismic blasting, could have impacts up and down the marine food chain, harming marine mammals, fisheries and possibly plankton, a foundation for the marine food web. The good news is bipartisan outcry stopped offshore drilling once before, and it can happen again.”
President Obama finalized a plan for leasing oil and gas in our federal waters that excluded the Atlantic Ocean between 2017 and 2022 and protected a number of undersea canyons from future leasing. Despite bipartisan opposition to Atlantic offshore oil and gas development, Trump has restarted the planning process which could lead to Atlantic oil and gas lease sales.
Greenpeace’s Arctic Sunrise has a rich history. The Russian government seized the ship in 2013 along with 30 peaceful activists when Greenpeace protested Arctic oil drilling by the Russian company Gazprom. The Arctic Sunrise was also the first ship to circumnavigate James Ross Island in the Antarctic. It has worked to stop Japanese whaling fleets, chased private vessels fishing illegally, navigated both the Congo and the Amazon, performed independent assessment of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and most recently protested oil drilling in the Norwegian Arctic before traveling across the Atlantic to New York City in October.
The Arctic Sunrise is now docked in Wilmington, North Carolina and is open for public tours on Saturday and Sunday.
Contact for interviews with Greenpeace or Scripps researchers on board:
Greenpeace USA Senior Communications Specialist Cassady Craighill