Seismic airgun testing may hit Florida soon

Opponents say testing could harm animals

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. - Seismic airgun testing on Florida's east coast is one step closer to becoming a reality. Five permit applications have been submitted to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. Protesters gathered at the Bridge of Lions in St. Augustine Wednesday evening to raise awareness about the issue.

If the applications are approved, oil companies will be able to go down on the ocean floor, drag an airgun and create an explosion to see if there's oil in the Atlantic Basin.

Opponents said the testing could impact tourism and the fishing industry and harm or potentially kill thousands of sea creatures.

"The sound that they use to create the sonar is so loud," said Bill Hamilton. "It's 1,000 times louder than a jet airplane and it stuns marine mammals and whales."

"We hope the candidates who are running for our vote want to defend the east coast of Florida and keep oil and gas exploration out of the Atlantic Ocean," said Neil Armingeon of the Matanzas Riverkeeper

Organizers said they have sent questionnaires to the gubernatorial and attorney general candidates to find their stances on the issue. They also said the testing will not start until after the election, which is why the issue has been raised before people head to the polls.

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