Lawmaker Uses an Airhorn in Congress on Behalf of the Whales

It’s not every day that you hear an air horn sounded in the U.S. Congress. Nevertheless, Representative Joe Cunningham did precisely that to great effect and for an important purpose: the wellbeing of whales.

When Chris Oliver, the assistant administrator at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, came to Congress to testify to the Water, Oceans and Wildlife subcommittee that seismic blasts conducted in the ocean to locate oil and gas were harmless to marine life, Cunningham sounded the air horn in order to make a point – a very loud point, to be exact.

The Democratic Rep. hailing from South Carolina wanted to remind Oliver just how “disruptive” a loud blast of sound can be. Though Oliver tried to avoid hazarding a guess as to how much louder a seismic test in the ocean is than the air horn, Cunningham’s answer of “16,000 times” louder really drove home the idea.

See the video:

The Trump administration is on the defensive after approving five energy corporations to conduct the very coastal seismic tests that the Obama administration had previously deemed too risky.

The sound blasts can be so loud that they’ve deafened whales and dolphins. That’s especially problematic for creatures like these that use their sense of sound to move around. The blasts can disorient the animals from being able to find food, mates and their offspring, and are suspected of being the driving force behind some whales beaching themselves.

Alas, the Trump administration is ignoring the findings of a study by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management that worries that 2.5 million dolphins and half a million whales are at risk of being harmed by this aural terror in order to hook up its friends in the fossil fuel industry.

That’s why Oliver looks so silly during the testimony trying to pretend he wasn’t that flustered by Cunningham’s air horn. Of course it’s disruptive – one pregnant congressional aide who attended the meeting reported that her unborn child started kicking when the noise sounded.

Add to that that these tests usually occur every ten seconds. Being blasted with an intense noise six times a minute isn’t just “irritating” as Oliver tried to put it – it’s enough to drive someone mad – whales presumably included.

It shouldn’t take an obnoxious noise to draw attention to the problem of seismic testing, but if that’s what it takes, good on Rep. Cunningham for bringing such a useful prop.

Take Action!

Let’s use the momentum of the air horn video to try to convince the Trump administration to reexamine its lax policy on seismic testing. Add your name to this popular Care2 petition to tell the Interior Department that you strongly disapprove. While you’re at it, why not start a petition of your own directed at the White House to take better action on conservation?


Kevin B
Kevin B7 days ago

thank you for posting

Greta L
Greta L8 days ago

Excellent. Signed.

Christine S

save the whales!

salah z
salah zoubiri10 days ago


salah z
salah zoubiri10 days ago


Shirley S
Shirley S10 days ago

Signed last December. Impressive Congressman !

Naomi D
Naomi Dreyer10 days ago

Sound is worth a thousand words.

Michael F
Michael F10 days ago

Thank You for Sharing This !!!

Paulo R
Paulo R11 days ago

that's great. previously signed.

Dr. Jan H
Dr. Jan Hill12 days ago