JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The U.S Department of Interior is looking to "perform surveys to detect offshore oil and gas deposits." Part of the proposal includes using airguns.
The Department said they'd be towed by boats, and could send loud blasts through the ocean every 10 seconds.
The proposal is for areas in the Mid- and South-Atlantic, including Florida.
Dr. Quincy Gibson, Assistant Professor at Coastal Behavior Biology at the University of North Florida, said the study could have short- and long-term negative consequences on marine life.
"There are potentially devastating effects," she said.
Mammals like whales and dolphins rely on hearing to live day-to-day under water. Dr. Gibson said the blasts have the potential to hurt, even kill, sea life.
"You're not just pushing them out of their habitat, but you're causing physical injury that will cause them to die," she said.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management said there are safeguards in place to control damage to wildlife. Some of those plans include staying out of migratory routes and timing the blasts.
A public comment period runs through April 7. After that, a decision will be made.
You can learn more about the proposal by clicking here.