Environmental and fishing groups are opposing a plan by three universities and the National Science Foundation to carry out seismic blast tests on the ocean floor off the New Jersey coast this summer.
The groups say the tests could harm or kill marine life including dolphins, whales and many types of fish.
The National Marine Fisheries Service has proposed granting permission for the study, which would run from early June to mid-July about 15 miles off Barnegat Bay.
The study is designed to study the arrangement of sediments deposited on the ocean floor during times of changing global sea levels dating back 60 million years.
Clean Ocean Action and other groups want an extended comment period and a public hearing on the proposal.