Editor: The picture of the whale breaching on the front page of your Dec. 30 edition of the paper is a once in a lifetime shot. I had the opportunity to experience and photograph that amazing event off the coast of Nova Scotia. It is fascinating and humbling to observe those massive creatures frolicking in the ocean.
The right whale migrates here from Nova Scotia every fall. The larger percentage of migrant whales are females ready to give birth. They are endangered and protected as much as they possibly can be by restrictions on such things as long line fishing and human intervention.
The areas of coastline that are approximately up to 15 miles off shore along the Georgia and North Florida coast are prime territory for the whales to give birth in waters that, with the exception of humans, is absent predators. The female whales raise their offspring to the point where they are strong enough to make the return trip to the northern most reaches of the Atlantic Coast as they run the gauntlet of predation from marine animals and humans.
In the days of sailing ships and the use of whale oil and bones by humans, the Right Whale got its’ name because it swam very slowly and stayed afloat when killed. It was the right whale to hunt. As was, and still is the case in many fisheries today, we hunted the animal almost to extinction.
It was, in part, the use of petroleum products that might have saved the whales. Whale oil was no longer a hot commodity. Ironically, it is now that same petroleum industry that is well on its way to being the greatest threat to our right Whales and our Atlantic Coast fisheries in general.
If Rep. Buddy Carter and Sen. David Perdue and big oil get their way, seismic testing and subsequent drilling for oil off potentially 300,000 square miles of North Atlantic coastline will become the next menace to all of our fisheries and the several species of whales that frequent our coastline along with other mammals such as the Atlantic bottle nose dolphin.
The Georgia coast with approximately 8,000 square miles of a comparatively shallow continental shelf, a perfect situation for drilling, is ground zero. It makes sense that big oil has been wooing our political leadership for several years now with healthy contributions to campaign funds and hosting "information" seeking trips to the Gulf of Mexico. To make comparisons between the Gulf of Mexico and the North Atlantic Ocean and conclude that they present the same challenges is a dangerous thing to do. The Gulf of Mexico is a fish pond in comparison to the mighty North Atlantic, the roughest body of water in the world.
As I understand it, Georgia remains the only state on the Atlantic Coast that has not registered an official objection to seismic testing. Even the Department of Defense has registered concerns, not necessarily about the potential destruction to our fisheries, and the potential destruction of our coastline from a ruptured oil well, but about the disruption of very vital military training exercises that are conducted continuously off our coast.
The next time you see that breaching whale pictured on the front page of the paper it might be its’ carcass washed up on the beach, having died of the bends because of being driven to the surface to quickly by explosive seismic sound waves or of starvation due to the destruction of its ability to hear and seek prey because of seismic testing.
Both Sen. Perdue and Rep. Carter have expressed their support for the destructive forces of seismic testing and drilling for oil with the inevitable ruptured well being introduced off our coast, i.e. an average of 1.5 oil spills in the USA every year for the past hundred years
I used to be a conservative. I have lost my way. I don’t know what to think of a Republican Party that consistently, from the president on down, is seemingly contemptuous of proven science with a disregard for all that is environmentally important, especially where money, and lots of it, is involved. I realize an argument against saving the darter snail, or whatever, may have some basis and sometimes, actually often times, environmentalists can go a bit overboard but each and every environmental issue requires close examination for its merits or absence thereof, not the off -hand dismissal of any argument, and disdain for the advice given by learned scientists and people who are a lot closer too and more informed about the environment than the halls of Congress allow., i..e. the hundreds of thousands of people employed in our fisheries and our tourist industries along the Atlantic Coast protesting the potential destruction of their livelihood.
Sound like "The sky is falling"? Could be! I predict that next time around, if seismic testing and drilling for oil becomes a reality, President Trump will lose every state on the East Coast. maybe with the exception of Georgia.