Dolphin Shutdowns

Dolphin shutdown policies propose that seismic operations stop or ramp down for dolphins. These dolphin shutdown proposals, as mitigation measures, broadly and substantially impact seismic operations but have no corresponding environmental benefit or scientific support. Dolphins are mid- to high-frequency specialists and, therefore, are not sensitive to the low-frequency impulse sounds emitted by seismic operations in areas of high-density dolphin populations, such as the US Gulf of Mexico, shutdown requirements for a species that frequently exhibits bow-riding behavior could bring all seismic survey activity to a halt.

Implementing dolphin-shutdowns would significantly and unnecessarily increase the number of shutdowns and delays in ramp-ups, which will lead to much longer survey times and increased costs for acquisition with no environmental benefit. Furthermore, since dolphin shutdowns result in increased survey duration, there is also an increase in potential exposure of marine mammals to seismic-related activities to adequately preserve data quality and integrity.

The IAGC does not support dolphin shutdowns and encourages exemptions for all dolphin species regardless of whether a dolphin is attempting to bow-ride.  Such an exemption is well-supported by the best available science, which show that seismic surveys do not have any meaningful adverse effects on dolphin species.