Legislators Request Suspension of Offshore Wind Development After Recent Whale Deaths

By B.N. Frank

Significant economic, environmental, and safety issues have been identified with offshore wind power.  Nevertheless, despite high costs, opposition, and warnings, the Biden Administration has continued to rush development (see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5) which has led to lawsuits being filed, including one to protect whales.  Perhaps now that multiple dead whales have recently washed up on East Coast beaches, the powers-that-be will re-think their mission.

From Wind-Watch:

7th dead whale washes up at Jersey Shore. Calls to stop offshore wind work grow.

The seventh dead whale in just over a month has washed up on the New York-New Jersey coastline, a local photographer and a climate group told NJ Advance Media on Friday.

The humpback whale, the resident said, washed up at a beach in Brigantine.

“This was at the far north end of Brigantine,” said Connie Pyatt, who noted that the whale was dead.

The dead whale washed up just miles from where another whale was found in Atlantic City on Saturday – which itself washed up blocks away from where another humpback whale was found in December.

The Marine Mammal Stranding Center, a non-profit organization which is authorized by the state to rescue marine mammals and respond to whale strandings, did not immediately provide comment Friday.

In a summary of the incident, the center said Friday the whale was first reported Jan. 12 at 4:50 p.m.

“When staff arrived, they found the 20-25 foot long carcass upside down in the surf. Due to the incoming tide and low light last night, staff returned at daybreak this morning to take photos,” the center said. “After a conference call with NOAA Fisheries and Greater Atlantic Region Stranding Network members to work out logistics, plans are underway for a necropsy to be performed on the animal.”

The Marine Mammal Stranding Center, which indicated it will post updates on the latest stranding, said it will revisit the area to take samples and measurements at the next low tide but asked for patience due to a small staff.

“These results can take several months to come back before a cause of death can be determined, if at all,” the center said, noting that residents should not approach the area for their own safety.

The stranding comes amid outcry from climate groups who said Monday in Atlantic City that six dead whales in five weeks demands a full stop of offshore wind development for an investigation. Groups worry pre-construction of offshore wind turbines may be causing harm to marine life due to the noise and sonar that can be emitted during survey work, as well as the potential for vessel strikes.

Cindy Zipf, executive director of Long Branch-based non-profit, Clean Ocean Action, said the group was also aware of the whale that washed up in Brigantine on Friday and were sending organizers to the site.

“This is bad news on top of bad news,” Zipf told NJ Advance Media on Friday over the phone.

“This is devastating and shows even more urgency to our call to action for (President Joe) Biden and Gov. Phil Murphy to call for a stop to all activity,” she added. “Don’t add any more projects and get a comprehensive investigation underway with experts and full transparency with oversight.”

While no offshore wind turbines have been built in New Jersey, several projects are in the works as Murphy pushes for the Garden State to reach his offshore electric wind generation goal of 11,000 megawatts of usage by 2040.

Murphy on Wednesday during a radio appearance called the string of whale deaths “tragic” and said a probe was underway to find the cause. A spokesman from his office deferred comment Friday to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The federal agency did not immediately respond.

“We should suspend all work related to offshore wind development until we can determine the cause of death of these whales, some of which are endangered,” state Senator Vince Polistina (R-Atlantic) said in a statement. “The work related to offshore wind projects is the primary difference in our waters, and it’s hard to believe that the death of (the) whales on our beaches is just a coincidence.”

Rep. Jeff Van Drew, R-2nd Dist., also called for a offshore wind work stoppage.

On Thursday, prior to the seventh whale stranding, a NOAA spokeswoman said no offshore wind developers have been authorized to seriously harm or kill whales as part of survey work.

But climate groups, like Save LBI and the Long Island Commercial Fishing Association, continue to implore officials to investigate the strandings further.

According to data from the Marine Mammal Stranding Center, 12 whales washed up in New Jersey in 2019 and 2020. Five washed up in the state in 2021, followed by six last year. Since Dec. 5, there have been five reported across various New Jersey beaches and two in New York.

NOAA is currently studying an increase of reported humpback whale deaths since 2016 across the East Coast. Officials there said that so far no humpback whale deaths have been attributed “to offshore wind activities.” However, the impact to other species of whales or other animals was not immediately provided.

In addition, the number of whales necropsied appears to be low. Since January 2016, 174 dead stranded humpback whales were reported across 13 states, including New Jersey. Of those, about 87 were examined after their deaths and about 40% of those examined were found to have died due to a ship strike or entanglement, NOAA said. It is not known how the others died.

Two humpback whales washed up in Atlantic City on Dec. 23 and Jan. 7. Environmental groups and officials said a humpback whale also washed up in Amagansett, New York, on Dec. 6 followed by a female sperm whale in Rockaway Beach in Queens, New York, on Dec. 12.

A 12-foot infant sperm whale was found here in Keansburg on Dec. 5 and a juvenile humpback whale on Strathmere Beach five days later.

“Necropsies (internal examinations) were completed on the two sperm whale strandings, and two of the four recent humpback whale strandings in this area,” a NOAA spokeswoman said Thursday. “Since the cause of death is not always clear at first examination, biologists took samples from these whales, and will work with laboratory partners to review them in the coming months. Decomposition can limit our ability to determine a definitive cause of death.”

[source links at source]

Source:  Published: Jan. 13, 2023 | Steven Rodas | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com | nj.com

Activist Post reports regularly about wind power and unsafe technology.  For more information, visit our archives.

Image: Pixabay

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