East Coast Whale Deaths Implicate Offshore Wind Farms

As more dead whales are found washed up on the East Coast, some experts point accusing fingers at offshore wind farms as the culprits.

On just the New York and New Jersey shores so far in 2023, at least 14 dead humpbacks and minke whales have been found. That’s a startling increase from only nine that were found on the same beaches in all of 2022.

The most recent instances of whales washing up were a pair of humpbacks located on May 31 in New Jersey and Long Island. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) believes that both died of blunt force trauma.

The 28-foot female found in New Jersey suffered from a severed pectoral fin, which officials said was consistent with being struck by a ship.

The 47-foot male discovered in Long Island displayed extensive bruising on muscles and blubber on his head.

Many put the blame squarely on wind farms, which are being constructed offshore up and down the coast. In fact, warnings came in even before these wind farms were developed.

Senior Biden official Sean Hayes, who is the chief of protected species for NOAA, wrote a memo in May 2022 warning that construction and surveying could disrupt the endangered Atlantic right whale.

In his letter, Hayes cautioned “the development of offshore wind poses risks to these species, which is magnified in southern New England waters due to species abundance and distribution.” Several factors involved in the farms presented threats, according to the expert.

He noted that, unlike ocean traffic and noise, the effects of the gigantic turbines cannot be mitigated for their 30-year lifespan.

Patrick Moore, the former president of Greenpeace, suspects the sound pulses used to survey the ocean floor are to blame. These are made for the 900-foot wind turbines.

Interviewed by the New York Post, Moore asserted that the underwater pulses could attract whales to the shallower waters. There, they encounter a greater risk of being struck by vessels or entangled in fishing gear.

The year’s total of deceased whales increases by 11 when East Coast states other than New York and New Jersey are factored in. New Jersey Republicans attempted to get a 60-day moratorium on offshore wind farm construction to study possible links to whale deaths.

Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy blocked their request.