MAR DEL PLATA.– Orcas, humpback and pilot whales, black, common, southern and smooth dolphins. Also Magellan penguins, albatross and petrel among many sea birds. It was a biodiversity show to witness on the course from the Greenpeace ship Witnessto traverse the area of the continental shelf reached by a oil exploration project continues. The goal? Expose the danger that this trade can create for that particular and rich ecosystem of the Argentine Sea and also for the southeast coast of Buenos Aires, the closest to the depth where drilling is expected later.
The ship, the latest addition to the ships of the international environmental organization, has completed a leg with a starting and ending point in Mar del Plata and a route with one of its ends in southern Uruguay. From there, heading south and almost to the border of international waters, they completed a triangle with the third tip almost in front of Chubut province.
“We came back very surprised because we saw more than we thought we would findwhich means more to take care of,” he said THE COUNTRY Hernán Pérez Orsi, from Mar del Plata who is a member of Greenpeace Andina and joined the permanent crew of the ship for this expedition, consisting of the Australian Daniel Mares, with the role of captain; the French Guven Daragon; the Turkish Erkut Ertürk and the Belgian Lies Bercamere.
This first fauna survey was attended by scientists from Whale Conservation Institute (ICB), which for the first time reached those waters far enough to coincide with the slope of the continental platform, was considered a corridor full of oxygen and food, so it was the chosen route for the migration of the main families of cetaceans with a presence in this sector of the Atlantic Ocean.
Mariano Cironi, Scientific Director of the ICB, recognized the surprise that this means to arrive for the first time in a remote sector and then for the many animals that they see. “Due to a delay in departure, we did not find southern right whales, but we found, for example, 170 pilot whales and even saw smooth dolphins for the first time,” he said. THE COUNTRY about a report they made only from what they could see above.
These and other forces of nature warn of that Oil exploration has a large and direct impact on marine faunaas well as exploitation means a huge risk in the face of future spills, which will mean water contamination, animal deaths and “irreparable” damage to the nearest coast.
The project they are questioning is called Cuenca Argentina Norte (CAN) which has six lots or zones where the firms Equinor, Shell, YPF, Total, Qatar Petroleum and British Petroleum will search for oil and gas. Despite these warnings, the national government gave it the go-ahead to advance to the “seismic exploration” stage, considering a mechanism of explosions with compressed air that serves to identify hydrocarbons. under the sea but there are sounds that can cause extreme conditions for animals.
“The risks are very high for the fauna of the region as a wholeespecially for cetaceans that depend a lot on sounds to know their directions, control their movements and find food”, explained Cironi about the possible harms of this road to the search for oil.
Fascinated by biodiversity
Perez Orsi he is a veteran of the Greenpeace cause. Ten years ago he was detained in Munsmark, Russia, when he arrived there at the helm of the Sunrise Artic ship of this organization to criticize the exploitation of oil in the Pechora Sea. Along with 29 other crew members, he was thrown into the St. Petersburg.
The cause here is the same and it involves him twice, because he is from Mar del Plata, the city closest to the future platforms of the CAN project. “What we saw was crazy, the scientists were delighted with the biodiversity we found on our way,” he explained to THE COUNTRY of a fauna that is within 200 nautical miles marking the limit of the Argentine Exclusive Economic Zone.
“In the future, the idea is to have a wider monitoring of the entire feeding area and have a wider and more detailed structure of the population of different species,” he explained about a goal that should be achieved -ot there from spring to summer.
In scientific terms, during this expedition, a measurement was achieved with a passive acoustic monitor with four microphones to identify signs of the presence of animals, to identify species and have these records as the basis for future more extensive and specific work on the subject.
The cpn insisted that the oil development in these seas is progressing or expanding. “We are against, we don’t want that ocean industry and we don’t want it to continue investing in fossil fuels,” said Pérez Orsi about an activity he considers “on the verge of dying, but that will lead . we will die.”
The rejection of these projects to search for hydrocarbons on the coast of Buenos Aires is reflected in the various protests and activations that this and other environmental organizations have been holding for more than two years. They were able to see it but did not stop it. Although in cities like Mar del Plata there is much anticipation about the positive economic impact that can be derived from the logistics of the oil industry. “The city is the Argentinian Dubai”, a trade unionist from the local fishing industry went so far as to say.
she The witness is still being held at Club Náutico Mar del Plata, with maintenance tasks, awaits an imminent new excursion with another purpose that raises concern about its possible consequences: an oil terminal intended to be installed in the Gulf of San Matías , possibly from changing a law that protects these beaches of this type. of projects and activities. Stopping it is the mission.