BARNEGAT LIGHT, N.J. - Seismic testing that involved blasting the ocean floor off the New Jersey Shore with sound waves has been completed, and a lawsuit brought against it by fishing groups has been dismissed.
Five fishing groups had sued to stop the research, led by Rutgers University and involving the National Science Foundation and the University of Texas, claiming it disturbs and possibly harms marine life such as dolphins, whales, turtles, and many fish species.
But in a joint court filing Wednesday, both sides acknowledged that the testing was completed Monday and that a restraining order shutting it down is no longer needed.
Gregory Mountain of Rutgers, the lead researcher, said Thursday that the survey teams managed to cover 95 percent of the target area.
The project used sound waves to study sediment on the ocean floor dating back 60 million years to see how sea-level rise has changed the coastline.
The researchers also say the study can help coastal communities understand sea-level change over millions of years to better protect themselves against storms like Sandy.
The findings could be used to help make decisions on where to elevate houses, build protective barriers, and relocate critical infrastructure, and what spots to retreat from.
Environmentalists say this type of research has a history of harming marine life, which can become disoriented or stressed from the noise, disrupting migratory patterns, displacing them, and even causing them to strand themselves.
But Mountain said there was no evidence any marine animals were harmed by the study.
"Our data holds the promise of resolving the geologic record of sea-level change and its impact on the New Jersey coastline with far greater clarity than has been available to researchers before now," he said. "We expect our results will become a reference library of Earth's behavior for decades to come."
He said the groups have no plans for similar testing in the near future.
The survey began June 1, and could have extended through the end of August.