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Endangered Species Research

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ESR 39:247-254 (2019)  -  DOI:

Critical information gaps remain in understanding impacts of industrial seismic surveys on marine vertebrates

B. W. Elliott1,*, A. J. Read1, B. J. Godley2, S. E. Nelms2,3, D. P. Nowacek1,4

1Duke University Marine Laboratory, Nicholas School of the Environment, 135 Duke Marine Lab Rd, Beaufort, NC 28516, USA
2Centre for Ecology and Conservation, University of Exeter, Cornwall Campus, Penryn TR10 9EZ, UK
3Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Prospect Place, Plymouth PL1 3DH, UK
4Duke University Pratt School of Engineering, 305 Teer Building Box 90271, Durham, NC 27708, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Anthropogenic noise is increasing throughout the world’s oceans. One major contributor is industrial seismic surveys—a process typically undertaken to locate and estimate the quantity of oil and gas deposits beneath the seafloor—which, in recent years, has increased in magnitude and scope in some regions. Regulators permit this activity despite widespread uncertainties regarding the potential ecological impacts of seismic surveys and gaps in baseline information on some key species of conservation concern. Research to date suggests that impacts vary, from displacement to direct mortality, but these effects remain poorly understood for most species. Here, we summarize potential effects of seismic surveys, describe key knowledge gaps, and recommend broad-scale research priorities for 3 impacted taxonomic groups: fish, marine mammals, and sea turtles. We also suggest further technological advances, improved mitigation measures, and better policy and management structures to minimize the ecological impacts of seismic surveys in light of scientific uncertainty.

KEY WORDS: Seismic airguns · Marine vertebrates · Marine mammals · Marine turtles · Turtles · Ocean noise · Chronic stress

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Cite this article as: Elliott BW, Read AJ, Godley BJ, Nelms SE, Nowacek DP (2019) Critical information gaps remain in understanding impacts of industrial seismic surveys on marine vertebrates. Endang Species Res 39:247-254.

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