Sonic Cannons Approved: A Good Thing Or A Bad Thing?


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The Obama administration recently approved the use of sonic cannons that will be used to find oil deposits beneath the ocean floor. This could also allow for drilling off the Eastern Seaboard.

While some people see this decision as a good one, there are many other people who are worried that the drilling and the cannons will harm sea life in the area.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management believes that the exploration will generate thousands of jobs. With unemployment rates still high in the country, this definitely sounds like a positive thing. The problem is the drilling and the cannons will likely cause large kill-offs of sea creatures.

Sonic cannons are extremely loud and they may confuse and even injure animals that use echolocation and sound to find food and family members. Many sea creatures use echolocation, including whales and dolphins.

“We don’t know what the physiological effects are,” said Grant Gilmore, fish ecology expert in Vero Beach, Fla. “It could be permanent hearing damage in many of these creatures just by one encounter with a high-energy signal.”

The decision will allow oil companies to search for energy deposits anywhere on the outer continental shelf from Delaware to Florida. This will be the first time the U.S. Atlantic coast will be open to oil and gas exploration since the 1980s.

Environmental groups have fought against the issue, but the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management felt that the risk was worth it. The bureau even determined on its own that over 138,000 sea creatures would be affected and possibly killed by the exploration and drilling.

“The bureau’s decision reflects a carefully analyzed and balanced approach that will allow us to increase our understanding of potential offshore resources while protecting the human, marine, and coastal environments,” acting BOEM Director Walter Cruickshank said in a statement.

Do you think oil exploration is worth killing thousands of innocent animals?

Image via Wikimedia Commons