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Soundings Archive

NMFS Says Some Alaskan Whale Populations Unaffected by Seismic
The Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University has asked for an Incidental Harassment Authorization to take marine mammals, by harassment, incidental to conducting a marine geophysical survey in the western Gulf of Alaska, June to August, 2011. The IHA would be issued by the United States National Marine Fisheries Service pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act. The IHA would authorize L-DEO to incidentally harass, by Level B harassment only, 16 species of marine mammals during the specified activity.

NMFS must receive any public comments on L-DEO's IHA application no later than June 6, 2011.

In the Federal Register notice of L-DEO's IHA application, NMFS states that

    "gray whales have continued to migrate annually along the west coast of North America with substantial increases in the population over recent years, despite intermittent seismic exploration (and much ship traffic) in that area for decades (Appendix A in Malme et al., 1984; Richardson et al., 1995; Allen and Angliss, 2010). The western Pacific gray whale population did not seem affected by a seismic survey in its feeding ground during a previous year (Johnson et al., 2007). Similarly, bowhead whales have continued to travel to the eastern Beaufort Sea each summer, and their numbers have increased notably, despite seismic exploration in their summer and autumn range for many years (Richardson et al., 1987; Allen and Angliss, 2010)."
  • Click here to read NMFS' Federal Register notice of L-DEO's IHA application
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