Reading the Environmental Impact Report for the seismic testing proposed off our beautiful, so-called “protected” coast, I do so with a box of tissues at my side and the tune of “Twelve Days of Christmas” dancing in my mind. Not necessarily because the testing will take place at holiday time, but because the surveys, from Cambria to Guadalupe, consist of life-threatening or outright deadly blasts of sound into the ocean every 15 seconds, over a 33-day period. We have begun a countdown of sorts.
Within the documentation on the project, the Environmental Assessment quantifies the “take” (defined as harass, harm, or kill) asking for permission from the countless regulatory agencies weighing in, all under the guise of law AB 1632.
The worst-case scenario (including a 25 percent contingency) for the “take” count goes like the old Christmas song: One minke whale, two sperm whales, five dwarf sperm whales, 13 humpback whales, 15 blue whales, 25 fin whales, 97 California gray whales … A single short-finned pilot whale, three Baird’s beaks, seven killer whales, eight striped dolphins, eight small beaked whales, 81 Dall’s porpoise, 82 long-beaked dolphins, 98 Risso’s dolphins, 114 northern right whale dolphins, 198 Pacific white-sided dolphins, 1,652 bottlenose dolphins, and 1,834 short-beaked dolphins … 76 harbor seals, 1,062 California sea lions, and 1,485 southern sea otters, untold sea turtles of several varieties, numerous fish and bird species, and the next generation of sea life including nearly 4 million larva of all types … and a partridge in a pear tree.
As if the images in my mind can’t get worse, I think of the types of effects these animals will incur:
Harassment: fear, flight, separation from mothers, schools, and pods. Anything that raises the blood pressure of these magnificent creatures is harassment.
Harm: injury, deafness, tissue damage, entanglement from the 3.7 miles of cables and equipment dragged behind the ship, and “The Bends” from diving deeper or faster than ever before, into places they generally don’t go. There is no “Clambulance” to take the many injured to marine hospitals where volunteers will be overwhelmed with injured, dead, and dying.
Kill: death to these sea creatures, leaving decomposing carcasses on our beaches, in the water, and depleting food sources for other species and the shore dwellers including sea birds and fish’n’chip loving humans.
Images of unsuspecting creatures who graced this Earth long before we did pepper the pages of the EIR. Sea creatures at risk range from the largest animal ever, the great blue whale, to smaller-than-the-head-of-a-pin larvae of all kinds.
The economic impact ripples from the recreational aspect to those dependent on the sea for their livelihood. People will be advised to stay out of the water during these 33 days of surveys. No scuba diving, surfing, boating. That equals no sales at seaside coffee shops, dinners, hotel stays, and those who have come to enjoy the Central Coast in the past may find new places to call vacationland when they’re turned away from their ocean play.
We are guests on this planet. We get but one shot at this life. While we are cozy in your homes, turkeys in the oven, holiday lights twinkling and wassail in our glasses, the death and destruction will be taking place in the coastal waters unless you speak up now. Take whatever time it takes, write or call your representatives. People can be very powerful if they make their voices known. It’s your turn to speak for those who can’t.
-- Julie Tacker - Los Osos
-- Julie Tacker - Los Osos