The Wild Coast in South Africa is set to face a massive assault on its entire marine ecosystem because Shell Oil, a subsidiary of the Royal Dutch Company, is about to conduct a five-month seismic survey that will have a devastating effect on millions of sea animals.
A major concern for marine biologists is that this will take place during the annual migration of the whales in the area. The high noise levels are likely to cause whale calves to become separated from their mothers because they rely on sound waves for communication.
There is no doubt of the catastrophic consequences of this action and it is causing outrage in South Africa, but Shell says it is following the letter of the law and that is that.
The search will take place over the next five months. An area of 6,011 kilometers (3,735 miles) squared will be affected from Port St Johns to Morgans Bay. Extremely loud sound waves will be fired by 48 air-guns, towed by the Amazon Warrior, in the direction of the seabed, penetrating through 3 kilometers (1.86 miles) of water and 40 kilometers (24.85 miles) of the Earth’s crust.
Seismic surveys are carried out to investigate sub-sea geological formations in the hope of detecting crude oil or gas. Each blast sent out by the air-guns measures over 200 decibels.
These blasts emitted by the guns will be fired continuously every ten seconds, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for five months.
Kevin Cole, a natural scientist, said that it will cause tissue damage, temporary or permanent hearing loss, affect their growth and reproduction and often even causes immediate death.
Adrienne West, chief campaigner of environmental charity Animal Survival International said that the horrendous consequences of the oil exploration have only just begun to sink into South Africans.
“Shell has the blessing of the South Africa government for this exploration. It is almost beyond belief that any government could countenance the devastation this exploration will cause.”
West called for an immediate ban on the exploration.
Footage: Adapted from original video made by Mark Roach
Image: Tom Stenton