Explorations under way

Seismic survey ship the MV Duke left Wellington on Friday en route to the Pegasus Basin, despite claims from Anadarko earlier in the week that no date had been set for seismic testing off the Kaikoura coast.

It is now in the waters off the Kaikoura coast, with seismic surveying either under way already, or imminent.

Anadarko corporate affairs manager Alan Seay was asked on January 20 for a start date for the operation and told the Kaikoura Star he could not confirm a date.

Two days later, on Wednesday January 22, a notice to mariners from Land Information New Zealand (Linz) was sent out confirming a date of Saturday January 25, less than a week after Mr Seay was asked.

The notice gave a window of potential operation from between January 25 and March 20.

The surveying will be carried out over 42 days.

The Kaikoura Star contacted Mr Seay on Thursday to ask why he had not offered this information.

His response was that he was asked for a specific date, and since bad weather and other factors could prevent the ship from arriving on a certain day, he was unable to confirm a day.

Mr Seay said he was not trying to hide anything, nor was he withholding information.

He said he willingly provided whatever information he had available.

Mr Seay also said it had been well known for some time that something was due to start in January, although this information had not been offered by Anadarko themselves.

The Kaikoura Star previously reported that work was likely to start in January.

Concerns locally are around the effects of the seismic testing on marine mammals, as it is widely agreed that there would be a degree of harm.

Marine expert and zoologist Dr Liz Slooten says it can cause serious damage to marine mammals using sonar for communication and guidance as the sound waves used in surveying can conflict with the sonar frequencies used by whales.

While the seismic ship will have to adhere to the Department of Conservation's code of conduct, which includes having marine mammal observers on board, many opponents believe this is not sufficient and that no testing should be carried out until the effects have been more extensively investigated.

Kaikoura Star