The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) posted several articles highlighting dangers to whales during its annual Whale Week celebration, but made no mention of the potential impacts offshore wind projects have on whale deaths.
NOAA is highlighting some of the biggest threats to whales as part of its Whale Week 2023 festivities, an annual event celebrating the marine mammal on its website, but has failed to mention offshore wind projects, potentially linked to a recent uptick in whale deaths. Environmental groups and a top NOAA scientist have both raised concerns about the project’s potential impact on whale populations.
“Whales are some of largest and the most magnificent animals on Earth, and some whale species are among the world’s most endangered,” Janet Coit, assistant administrator of NOAA Fisheries, wrote on NOAA’s website. “At NOAA Fisheries, our team of dedicated scientists and managers is responsible for the health and sustainability of more than 30 whale species in the U.S. and territorial waters,” she added.
Welcome to #WhaleWeek 2023! Take a deep dive into whales including threats to their survival, recovery efforts, and what you can do to conserve whales: https://t.co/fchZV0ltIW pic.twitter.com/J0ayAdwmqa
— NOAA Fisheries (@NOAAFisheries) April 24, 2023
Coit blamed climate change, ship strikes and ocean noise for the recent increase in whale deaths. But multiple environmental groups believe that offshore wind survey sites may be to blame and have called for a moratorium on project construction until an investigation is conducted. (RELATED: Environmental Org Sues To Halt Offshore Wind Development Over Potential Link To Whale Deaths)
Since December 2022, over 20 whales have washed up on east coast shores near vessel survey sites for planned offshore wind projects as part of an uptick in what NOAA calls “unusual mortality events,” also known as whale strandings.
A January report by the nonpartisan, grassroots ocean and marine life advocacy group, Save Long Beach Island (Save LBI), however, shows that the noise from survey vessels is disorienting whales’ hearing, which could then lead to collisions with ships.
“The right whales come from New England and come through New Jersey as part of their migratory cycle each year, and these turbines are in their path,” Bob Stern, president of Save LBI and former director of the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Compliance previously told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
“Again, at this point, there is no evidence that noise resulting from wind development-related site characterization surveys could potentially cause mortality of whales, and no specific links between recent large whale mortalities and currently ongoing surveys,” Lauren Gaches, NOAA public affairs spokesperson, told the DCNF.
But NOAA scientist Sean Hayes warned his agency in 2022 that “Additional noise, vessel traffic and habitat modifications due to offshore wind development will likely cause added stress that could result in additional population consequences to a species that is already experiencing rapid decline,” according to Bloomberg.
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