Shell, the multi-billion dollar oil and gas company, has announced it will start a potentially catastrophic seismic survey in search of oil/gas deposits along South Africa’s Wild Coast.
Check out this video that we posted on our Instagram account:
The survey is set to start on December 1st and it has scientists seriously concerned about the disastrous effects the actions will have on the marine life ecosystem.
What Is Being Planned and Why?
Shell’s plans were quietly announced on November 1st but the voices of enraged environmentalists and people who care about the Wild Coast have thankfully responded.
The Dutch energy giant intends on going through with a four to five-month geographic seismic survey off the coast of the Eastern Cape and parts of the Western Cape provinces.
A ship will tow multiple airgun arrays that put out thousands of high-decibel explosive impulses to map the seafloor and rock strata. As the impulses are reflected or refracted back to hydrophones, the return times of the impulses will be used to map out the structure of the ocean floor beneath in 3D.
The marine seismic technology makes it possible for mining companies to have an accurate picture of any gas or oil pockets that may be trapped beneath the ocean floor. If the company thinks that these pockets are large enough, they’ll make plans to start drilling.
What Are the Dangers of the Survey?
Water is extremely acoustic which means it’s highly efficient at carrying sound waves. Many fish, marine mammals, and invertebrates depend on sound to communicate, find food, avoid predators, and navigate.
The South African east coast is home to marine and coastal habitats that support countless sea animals, including those which are native to South African oceans. There are many deepwater habitats that are unexplored and much is still unknown about them, ecologically. The damage to these areas can’t be calculated.
Seismic surveys have been demonstrated to have negative impacts on a range of marine organisms — both large and small. According to the South African Association for Marine Biological Research (SAAMBR), marine mammals, in particular, have shown to be the most impacted by seismic surveys because of their reliance on sound to live and communicate. A seismic blasting of this scale will hurt whales during the breeding season and possibly separate mothers from their calves.
Another major concern is the Agulhas current. It’s one of the most powerful oceanic currents in the world and will exacerbate any problems that may come with offshore oil and gas extraction. The power of the current will likely make any attempts to contain any accidental spillage — or even normal operational spillage, for that matter — unsuccessful. Any oil spill could potentially be carried all along the east coast of South Africa in just a matter of days.
Research has also shown that seismic surveying may have serious consequences on the long-term health of fisheries. SAAMBR has observed decreases in the overall catch in some areas.
Concerned Voices Are Rising
Activists, environmentalists, fishers, and residents are uniting to speak against Shell’s decision. They plan to increase pressure against both the government and energy giant, in hopes of a change.
Many are shocked that the seismic survey was announced barely a month after the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland. The fact that the government has approved the plans leaves people to worry that the threat of global heating isn’t being taken seriously by their leaders.
Groups of fishing communities are getting involved and there are rumors that some may be seeking a court interdict.
There is a march along the Wild Coast beaches planned for December 5 and it will start at the Mzamba River Estuary.
At Karmagawa and SaveTheReef we are upset about what Shell is planning on doing. South Africa’s Wild Coast is filled with many important marine species and these actions will disrupt their peaceful habitat. We must use our voices to keep speaking up for the voiceless and that’s why we are using our media channels to do so.
You can join in, too. Please click on this link to sign the petition to stop the seismic survey from happening so that we can protect all the marine life in those areas!
Also … please spread our information so that your friends and family are aware, as well.
Have them watch this powerful video …
The director of this video, Amir Zakeri, created a masterclass for anyone in the Karmagawa and SaveTheReef community who would like to tell visual stories about the causes they care about. If you’re interested, here’s 50% off.
What do you think about the rescuing of these animals from the Melka Excelsior Hotel? Leave a comment below.
(Cover image: James Jones Jr/Shutterstock)