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NOAA Releases Underwater Noise Guidance

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration today released technical guidance on how to predict the impact of human-made underwater sounds on marine mammals’ hearing, including noise from seismic survey activity.

This graphic shows how seismic airgun testing is used to locate oil and gas deposits deep below the ocean floor. Graphic: Oceana

This graphic shows how seismic airgun testing is used to locate oil and gas deposits deep below the ocean floor. Graphic: Oceana

Seismic surveying generates shock waves that are generated by air or water guns and reflected off the sea floor to measure the qualities of rocks below the Earth’s surface. It’s an essential part of exploration for oil and natural gas.

In addition to helping the federal government and industries accurately understand the effects of their actions, the guidance will also be used by NOAA to authorize activities that create sound underwater.

The guidance provides acoustic thresholds in marine mammal hearing to predict how the animal will respond. It has gone through an internal review, three external peer reviews, three public comment periods and received input from other federal agencies.

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The story was compiled by staff members of Coastal Review Online.