Feds approve coastal fireworks
June 30, 2011
Activists have argued that explosions from popular annual pyrotechnics shows along the coast disturb marine life, especially harbor seals and California sea lions. [Fresno Bee]
Under federal environmental law, disturbances from exploding displays of fireworks are serious enough to count as “harassment,” which means “any act of torment, pursuit or annoyance” to marine life.
Officials estimate that 6,170 California sea lions and 1,065 harbor seals could be affected from the noise and fallout of fireworks, but are not expected to suffer injury or death.
Loud sound bursts and pressure waves created by exploding shells appear to cause more disturbance than the illumination, according to a 2002 federal study. As the fireworks displays progress, “most marine mammals and birds generally evacuate the impact area.”
Another study for the Walt Disney Corp. found that Florida fireworks displays left detectable but negligible and apparently harmless amounts of barium, strontium and antimony in nearby waterways.
Regulators authorized 20 fireworks displays between Santa Cruz and Cambria. The fireworks over Moonstone Beach in Cambria are estimated to impact 60 California sea lions and 60 harbor seals.