What it is, what it means for marine life and what you can do to help. 

For those of you living in Newcastle and the surrounding suburbs, you would have heard the term 'Seismic testing' being talked about a lot lately. Amongst the media, general public, and environmental groups this is an issue of profound concern. So let's break it down into easy to understand, bite-sized pieces, so we can gain a clear understanding of what it means, how it affects our marine life and coastline, and what, we, as individuals can do to help. 


Before oil companies extract oil from below the Earth's surface, they must first determine where the best oil deposits sit. To do this they use a process called seismic testing. The technology measures reflected acoustic energy waves and is mostly used for coal, oil, gas and geothermal exploration. 

Seismic imaging provides Geophysicists and Geologists with a method of mapping the subsurface structure of rock formations. They then interpret the data to map structural features that could potentially contain minerals and hydrocarbons.

The Earths upper crust is made up of many layers of rocks and minerals,  all of which have different properties. Changes in properties between rocks can cause reflection and/or refraction of sound waves. Seismic testing works by sending acoustic energy waves, created by an energy source through these layers and recording how long a reflected sound wave took to be received by a microphone. 

To create the source wave, explorers will sometimes use Pneumatic air-guns to send acoustic shock waves through the ground. During testing these air-guns are fired repeatedly as the ship traverses an area of interest, the reflected sound waves are picked up by hydrophones. 



Does it affect them?

Marine life, such as whales and dolphins rely on sound to navigate their world. They use it to avoid predators, to feed and to communicate with one another. Low-frequency sound travels really well in water over long distances. Seismic testing uses these same low-frequency waves. The effects of seismic surveying on whales and dolphins, that are sensitive to certain sound levels, are not fully understood. These tests could potentially have physical and/or behavioural impacts on these incredible creatures. 

The loudest sound sources used in seismic survey operations are produced by air-guns which generate short, intense pulses of sound directed at the seafloor. The pulses are broad band, but most energy is concentrated in the 10 – 200 Hertz (Hz) frequency range.  The range of frequencies that whales use are from 30 Hertz (Hz) to about 8,000 Hz. 



What you can do to make a difference.

Stop Seismic testing Australia are asking for us to come together on Saturday the 19th of May at Nobbys beach to join hands. Connecting us to one another, collectively standing up for the ocean and being the voices for all the incredible creatures that call the ocean, home.  Exercising empathy we can change lives. 

Hollie and the team at elasmo, believe in kindness.  Our mission is to educate and empower. To create a world based on empathy, not apathy, where eco comes before ego, a world where we are more compassionately connected to one another.

Did you know, humans, modestly named homo sapiens, means wise man? What does wisdom mean to you?

For the elasmo team wisdom is found in listening. Listening to nature and each other. Through listening you find understanding, you can then use knowledge and imagination to innovate and inspire, creating waves to wash the world into a new era.  You can choose to move into renewable energy,  adopt a sustainable lifestyle and support initiatives that benefit both you and the planet. You can read up on these relevant issues, keeping yourself up to date and educating those around you on your findings.

You have the ability to create change. You are enough.