Report 359
Marine mammal observations during seismic surveys in 2001 and 2002
Stone, C.J
In the UK the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) has developed the Guidelines for minimising acoustic disturbance to marine mammals from seismic surveys (the current version is included in Appendix 1). When consent is granted by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) for a seismic survey to be conducted in UK waters, it is routinely made a condition of the consent that the JNCC guidelines must be followed.



Over 24,000 hours were spent watching for marine mammals (whales, dolphins, porpoises and seals) during seismic surveys used for oil exploration in 2001-02.  There were 1,267 occasions when marine mammals were seen, with a total of 19,969 individuals recorded.  White-beaked dolphins were the commonest species encountered, but minke whales, white-sided dolphins, killer whales and harbour porpoises were also seen, with other species occurring in low numbers.  Most sightings occurred during July, in the northern North Sea and to the west of Shetland.

The data received were analysed to look for any potential effects of seismic activity on marine mammals.  Parameters considered were the frequency of sighting of marine mammals, how close they approached to the airguns, and their behaviour and orientation.  These parameters were compared between periods when seismic airguns were being used, and periods of airgun silence.

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ISSN 0963 8091
Please cite as: Stone, C.J, (2006), Marine mammal observations during seismic surveys in 2001 and 2002, JNCC Report 359, ISSN 0963 8091