Scientists sound the alarm on underwater blasting's effect on whales and other marine wildlife

Whale sightings in the waters off New York and New Jersey are becoming more common. A new plan pushed by the Trump administration may reverse the progress of marine life in the area.

The federal government is in the process of allowing seismic air gun blasting to occur to search for offshore oil and gas. The loud blasting happens underwater. Marine scientists are worried the damage it will cause to the wildlife.

"It's marine wilderness and it's amazing. We're finally getting to a point where we're seeing schooling fish," Dr. Howard Rosenbaum, a senior scientist at the New York Aquarium. "And now we're adding another stressor."

That stressor is seismic air gun blasting. The air guns are towed behind ships and shoot loud blasts of compressed air through water and into the seabed, which reflect back information about buried oil and gas deposits.

But scientists are troubled by the noise impact. Rosenbaum said animals sometimes stop their normal behavior, such as breeding or communication. He has teamed up with other aquariums along the coast voicing opposition of the blasting.

"For example, a seismic survey off the coast of Virginia—the sounds of those seismic blasts would be up in the New York area in a matter of seconds," he said.

The federal government authorized the blasting from Delaware to Florida. NOAA Fisheries, the federal agency protecting marine animals, authorized the blasting, saying the companies will be monitored and will restrict blasting during marine mammal migrating.