Currently, seismic blasting and offshore drilling are at a standstill in this country. The Trump administration advocates for expansion to the Atlantic with the benefits of crude oil energy, while environmental organizations are suing for the potential impacts on the ocean ecosystems. Here at Eckerd, Scubi Jew raise their voices through silence in order to raise awareness about this issue.
Scubi Jew President Melissa Pielet, with the help of environmental organizations and professors, organized an event on Saturday, April 27 to educate the community about the dangers of seismic airgun blasting.
“It’s an advocacy event with a fun component,” Pielet said. “I thought it would be a great idea to bring the community together in a fun way.”
Pielet learned about this issue during her marine mammalogy class last fall. After hearing about it in class and watching the documentary “Sonic Sea,” she became more aware of the dangers of a noisy ocean.
“A lot of people have no idea what seismic airgun blasting is,” Pielet said. “I learned how detrimental it is to everything in the ocean, from things as small as plankton to affecting the biggest mammals like whales.”
Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Joanna Huxster feels very passionate about this issue. Seismic airgun blasting has harsh impacts on marine ecosystems, particularly fish, turtles and whales that use different sounds in communication, feeding and mating habits.
“Continuing to do [seismic blasting] or expanding it, it just seems that it would be disastrous for the ecology for the area,” Huxster said.
According to Huxster, seismic blasting serves as a precursor to even more destructive offshore drilling, since the blasting informs companies about where drilling should take place for natural gas and oil.
“I don’t think we should be drilling offshore,” Huxster said. “Climate change is such a massive issue, and we need to be finding ways to invest our time and money into getting renewables going instead of continuing our addiction to oil and natural gas.”
Oceana is an environmental organization that Pielet interns with that has reliable information about the issue. Florida Gulf Coast Oceana Campaign leader Hunter Miller spoke at the event.
There are many lies in the media about the impacts of seismic blasting, according to Pielet. Pielet and those at Oceana hope that this event will give the public the truth.
“One really cool thing about this event is that I am actually more aware of the seismic blasting aspect of offshore drilling. So I think that is definitely something I am going to be incorporating more into my classes in the future,” Huxster said.
The Seismic Blasting Silent Disco was held at the Flying Boat Brewing Company on April 27 from 7:00 p.m. until midnight. The event had many fun advocacy activities, especially in the beginning with an advocacy hour, a documentary and special speakers.
In addition to Miller, Rabbi Ed Rosenthal spoke at the silent disco on behalf of Scubi Jews.
According to Pielet, Rosenthal touched on the issues surrounding seismic blasting, and how people can get more involved with becoming champions of the ocean.
Assistant Professor of Marine Science & Biology Shannon Gowans also spoke to the crowd about the impacts of seismic blasting on marine mammals, based on her research with Visiting Professor of Environmental Studies Peter Simard.
Afterward, participants were free to dance the night away in silence