Humpback Whale Underwater in Indian Ocean, Western Australia
Humpback Whale Underwater in Indian Ocean, Western Australia

Australia must take urgent action to protect marine life this World Whale Day, as gas goliath Woodside Energy prepares to launch a large-scale assault of seismic blasting in Western Australia, says Greenpeace Australia Pacific.

Western Australia’s Woodside Energy will today close its public consultation process on its seismic blasting plan for its controversial Burrup Hub offshore gas project off the Pilbara coast.

If approved, Woodside could start releasing underwater sound explosions almost immediately, near the UNESCO-protected Ningaloo Reef and important whale migration routes. It would be permitted at any time of day or night.

Greenpeace Australia Pacific senior campaigner Richard George said seismic blasting could have a catastrophic impact on whales.

“This Sunday, communities around the globe are celebrating our beloved whales. Meanwhile, Woodside is planning destructive seismic blasting which could injure and kill these harmless and majestic creatures,” he said.

The process uses underwater airguns to blast powerful sound waves towards the seabed to identify fossil fuel reservoirs beneath the ocean floor.

“For creatures who rely on the clear transmission of underwater sound to communicate with their pods and therefore stay alive, massive disruptions like these sonic blasts could have dire consequences,” Mr George said.

“A deaf whale is a dead whale. A lost calf is a dead calf.”

World Whale Day is taking place on 19 February this year, which also marks 45 years since the end of commercial whaling in Australia. But whales now face new threats, including climate change and expansion of offshore gas and oil extraction in Australian coastal waters.

“Australia has come a long way in protecting whales, but Woodside is still living in the dark ages. Woodside’s plan to drill for gas and seismic blast in endangered whale habitat puts short-term greed above the long-term health of our oceans, coastal communities and global climate,” Mr George said.

“If we are serious about protecting whales, we need swift regulatory action to put an end to Woodside’s dangerous Burrup Hub.”



  • Every year, the third Sunday in February is celebrated as World Whale Day. 
  • Oil and gas companies are making news following allegations from a whistleblower that Santos covered-up the deaths of dolphins following an oil spill in Western Australia last year. You can read Greenpeace’s statement here.
  • You can read Greenpeace’s recent report into Woodside’s seismic blasting plans here.