Testing for natural resources in the ocean has become quite the controversial subject with regards to the impact that is has on whale populations and their survival. Recently, an energy company by the name of Woodside decided to use a testing technique that implements air guns to find deposits of natural gas beneath the ocean’s surface. This technique shoots compressed air at high velocity and creates a seismic blast, which anyone with a bit of scientific knowledge knows can be very harmful to whales in a number of ways.
Their target was a seamount in Australian waters. It also happens to be the only known seamount in the region where whales have been seen feeding on a regular basis. A population of blue pygmy whales shows up there seasonally and takes advantage of the high concentration of food.
Despite regulations stating that testing in the area should not be done during periods when the whales were present, Woodside managed to get their plan for testing approved by Australia’s environmental department. They have publically stated that they knew the whales were going to be there, adding that they waited until the group had gone to begin their testing.
While one can appreciate them at least making an effort, there arises a question of how they even managed to get approval in the first place. In theory, the permit should have been denied or at least postponed until the whales had moved on. It’s yet another case of a government organization being set up to protect whales and simply ignoring their duties in the name of profit. Access to oil and gas is all-important in today’s energy-driven world, but there needs to be a line drawn somewhere. If the government agencies responsible for the overseeing of whales isn’t going to do it, then who is?