Over the course of the past few months, close to two dozen corpses of whales have ended up washing ashore along the Atlantic Coast of the United States. This unexplained spike in fatalities is taking place as the state of New Jersey is working to build a large offshore wind farm, which a number of conservationists claim is adversely affecting the natural navigation of the whales.
A group of federal scientists has spoken out to state that there is currently zero evidence directly linking this new construction to the spike in whales that have been beached, but a number of local legislators, conservative commentators, and environmentalist groups have insisted the massive installations of wind turbines are the prime culprit and are calling for action against them.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has kept track of over 184 “unusual mortality events” when it comes to Humpback whales throughout the area since 2016 — close to 25 per year, but over the past few months, there have been close to 22 large whales that have ended up stranded throughout the area, which included a total of 15 humpbacks, rivaling the annual total for this past year.
“It’s an alarming surge,” stated the director of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center located in New Jersey, Sheila Dean.
Close to a third of corpses have washed ashore on the costs of New Jersey and New York — which is significant because of the giant wind farm currently being built off the coast of New Jersey. The state has committed well over $10 billion to the project, which they are expected to create well over 11 Gigawatts of power by as soon as 2040. However, there is an escalating effort to halt the project.
Groups of protesters numbering in the thousands gathered together this past Sunday — “International Whale Day” — along Pleasant Point Beach in New Jersey in order to try and lobby for a moratorium for offshore wind developments. The group spearheading the efforts, Clean Ocean Action, was at first very supportive of smaller wind-based projects but has now started to express concerns over the wind-ranging impacts that much larger developments could pose.
“At this point, there is no evidence to support speculation that noise resulting from wind development-related site characterization surveys could potentially cause mortality of whales,” as stated on the official website for the NOAA. “and no specific links between recent large whale mortalities and currently ongoing surveys. We will continue to gather data to help us determine the cause of death for these mortality events.”
While currently ongoing investigations have not fully connected the new construction on wind farms to the spiking fatalities, a number of employees of the NOAA have expressed concerns about the risks it could pose.