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BC Oil Tanker Port Planned in Rare Acoustically Quiet Coastal Zone

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Plans to build a pipeline to move the fruits of Alberta’s oil fields and oil sands to the deepwater port of Kitimat, in order to ship it to Asia, are spurring widespread concerns among residents and researchers in northern British Columbia. In addition to fears of a tanker accident and rural resistence to the pipeline, University of BC biologist Rob Williams stresses the noise impact of increased tanker traffic. “Caamano Sound may be one of the last chances we have on this coastline to protect an acoustically quiet sanctuary for whales,” says Williams. “We don’t exactly know why this area is so rich, but there are some long, narrow channels that serve as bottlenecks for food, making it easier for whales to feed.” The researcher has been using acoustic monitors to gauge the level of underwater shipping noise, known to have an impact on the ability of toothed mammals, such as orcas and dolphins, to use echolocation for finding food. A detailed feature article in the Vancouver weekly The Georgia Strait provides an in-depth look at the plans and at the hurdles that must be crossed to bring it to fruition. Source: Strait.com, 2/5/09 [READ ARTICLE]

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