Sea turtles, whales deter oil surveys

Florida Today recently wrote an article titled “Sea turtles, whales deter oil surveys.”

They reached out to Biology Professor Llew Ehrhart for his expert opinion on the topic.

The environmental study includes several alternatives for ways to avoid harming whales, sea turtles and other wildlife. Proposals include closing areas up to about six nautical miles offshore of Brevard to seismic surveying during sea turtle nesting season — May 1 to Oct. 31. An additional area 20 nautical miles out could be off-limits for the sound surveying during right whale migration — Nov. 15 to April 15. Other proposals include requiring a 25-mile separation between concurrent seismic air gun surveys and requiring use of passive acoustic monitoring devices as part of the seismic air gun surveys.

The northern segment of the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge borders the area being considered for the surveying and has an estimated 25 percent of all loggerhead sea turtle nesting in the United States. Llew Ehrhart, a biologist who studies sea turtle nesting on Archie Carr, said he would need to study what’s being proposed before knowing whether the activity would harm turtles. Sea turtles don’t have ear drums or external ears.

“Their auditory sense is — as it should be — adapted to vibrations in the water,” said Ehrhart.

Most research revolves around sound impacts on marine mammals.

“I think we still have a lot to learn in terms of the effect on other marine and aquatic animals,” Ehrhart said.

To read the full article please click here.

To contact Ehrhart regarding his research or for comments on current biology research please view his information here.


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