The Namibian Dolphin Project | Environmental concerns

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Environmental concerns, large developments affecting the sea

We’re not activists, but we have our concerns. Here we’re trying to collate information and links to various impacts on the marine environment

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Exploration for Oil & Gas (Seismic Surveys and Drilling) – Namibia has been earmarked as having potentially huge oil and gas reserves. In the last 5 years there has been a significant increase in the number of seismic surveys and exploration drilling taking place off Namibia’s coast. Seismic surveys are in essence very powerful depth sounders, which use the echoes of exceptionally loud ‘bangs’ generated from air guns to map the rock layers below the sea floor. Cetaceans are highly sensitive to sound, using it for orientation and communication, and the noise from seismic surveys has the potential to disturb, injure and even kill under extreme circumstances. To minimise the impacts on cetaceans, most surveys are planned to fall out side of the peak ‘whale season’ and all survey ships are required to carry a marine mammal observer (MMO) who has to make sure there are no cetaceans or turtles within danger distance of the air guns (usually 500 m) before they start firing.

Since we hold the most largest and most up to date database of cetacean sightings and strandings in Namibia, the NDP tries to get involved where ever possible to provide the most up to date information available to the industry during the Environmental Impact Assessment process. However, data from offshore is still extremely scarce, especially for the smaller species, with most information coming from a few years of commercial whaling in the 1960s. There are many unknowns including the number and recovery status of most large whale species, their current seasonality in the area which may have changed since whaling days and the smaller species such as offshore dolphins and beaked whales are almost entirely unknown.


Marine Phosphate Mining – another massive industrial undertaking off the central Namibian coast. Marine phosphate reserves have never before been mined (dredged) successfully. Namibia has potentially vast reserves and there is a growing interest in taking accessing these.  Essentially, this would entail large scale dredging of the sea floor down to Xxm, transport of the gravel to shore where it will be processed.  The processing plant is currently planned to lie adjacent to the Walvis bay saltworks, en route to Sandwich Harbour

Impact assessments here: