AP: “The Obama administration is reopening the Eastern Seaboard to offshore oil and gas exploration, announcing final approval Friday of sonic cannons that can pinpoint energy deposits deep beneath the ocean floor. The decision promises to create plenty of jobs and thrills the oil industry, but dismays environmentalists worried about the immediate impact as well as the long-term implications of oil development. The cannons fill waters shared by whales and turtles with sound waves 100 times louder than a jet engine. Saving endangered species was the environmental groups’ best hope of extending a ban against offshore drilling off the U.S. Atlantic coast… underwater microphones have picked up blasts from these sonic cannons over distances of thousands of miles, and the constant banging — amplified in water by orders of magnitude — poses unavoidable dangers for marine life, scientists say. Whales and dolphins depend on being able to hear their own much less powerful echolocation to feed, communicate and keep in touch with their family groups across hundreds of miles. Even fish and crabs navigate and communicate by sound, said Grant Gilmore, an expert on fish ecology in Vero Beach, Fla. “We don’t know what the physiological effects are. It could be permanent hearing damage in many of these creatures just by one encounter with a high-energy signal,” Gilmore said.”
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