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Ecologists urging oil industry to put off prospecting on Sakhalin as gray whales in danger

May 19, 2015, 8:57 UTC+3 YUZHNO-SAKHALINSK
Nature conservation activists were particularly worried by the presence of two simultaneous seismic exploration programmes at a time
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© EPA/Cetacean Research Institute

YUZHNO-SAKHALINSK, May 19. /TASS/. Ecologists in Russia’s Far-Eastern Island of Sakhalin have asked oil corporations engaged in exploration works on the oil-rich continental shelf to put off the seismic surveying works scheduled for the coming summer because of dangers posed to the local population of the Pacific gray whale, the regional environmentalist organization Ekologicheskaya Vakhta Sakhalina (the Sakhalin Ecological Duty Shift) said on Tuesday.

"Operators of the Sakhalin-1 and Sakhalin-2 projects, Exxon Neftegaz Limited and Sakhalin Energy, are expected to embark on large-scale seismic prospecting works in the near-shore section of the Sea of Okhotsk in the northeast of Sakhalin," the report said.

"The section is the only stamping ground of the western (Okhotsk and Korea) population of the Pacific gray whale, and that is why the environmentalists are asking the companies to put off the surveying until 2016 due to its highly depressive impact on the gray whales - an endangered species entered in Russia’s Rare Species Book," the organization said.

Nature conservation activists were particularly worried by the presence of two simultaneous seismic exploration programmes at a time. They said the extremely levels and duration of noise might exert a highly deplorable impact on the whales.

"The monitoring of the population of gray whales showed it steady enough condition and a relatively high birth-rate in recent years but the forthcoming season may reduce to naught all the efforts that scientists and state agencies have been taking to maintain this population," the environmentalists said.

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