FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Stephanie Dorezas
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
is seeking comment on a
USGS scientists will collect data to investigate hazards posed by landslides and potential earthquake faults in the coastal region from Santa Barbara to San Diego. In addition, USGS researchers will analyze whether seawater is seeping into freshwater wells and affecting the drinking water supply in the Los Angeles-San Pedro area.
During this survey, the USGS will operate a small airgun and a high-resolution electrically powered sound source from a research vessel. Marine mammals will most likely be disturbed by the seismic noise emitted from this activity. An incidental harassment authorization under the Marine Mammal Protection Act is warranted because the noise from the proposed survey's seismic sources could potentially affect marine mammals.
Agency officials believe that a small number of animals may not avoid the seismic vessel and may experience temporary hearing loss from the survey activity. The agency has suggested protection measures that establish safe operating distances from whales, dolphins, seals and sea lions which should reduce disturbances to the animals. USGS biological observers will search for marine mammals located near the noise source, and shut off the airgun if the seismic ship approaches a marine mammal. In addition, the USGS will document the number of animals of each species present within 250 m (820 ft) of the sound transmissions, and evaluate the reactions of marine mammals to the noise.
NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service has preliminarily determined that this seismic survey will not result in more than the incidental harassment of small numbers of marine mammals and would have no more than a negligible impact on these stocks.
The Fisheries Service will accept comments on the application and proposed authorization through March 5, 1999. Comments should be addressed to Donna Wieting, Acting Chief, Marine Mammal Division, Office of Protected Resources, The National Marine Fisheries Service, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910- 3225. A copy of the application and Federal Register notice may obtained by contacting the same office.