Dead Whales and Dolphins: 2 Points of View About the Reasons Why
With at least 28 dolphins and 13 whales having been found dead on the New York and New Jersey shore there continues to be a sharp divide about whether climate change or increased work related to wind turbines including sonar mapping might be to blame.
U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J. 6th District, and U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J. spoke at a forum in Long Branch blaming climate change and shipping for the deaths. Pallone bluntly said that science does not support a link between wind-farm development and deaths.
"Climate change is the biggest threat to marine mammals," Pallone said. "As the world transitions to a clean economy, there’s simply no logical reason to put our coastal communities and ocean ecosystems at risk with unnecessary and dangerous drilling off our coast that could drench our oceans and marine wildlife in oil and increase emissions. That’s exactly why we must continue to transition to a clean economy and develop renewable energy sources.”
Pallone and others said that as water temperatures rise, fish species that whales prey upon have been moving into different areas, bringing whales more frequently into the path of heavily traveled shipping lanes off the East Coast.
“They're having a picnic in the Parkway. They're getting hit," Ed Potosnak of the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters said.
Anjuli Ramos-Busot, director for the New Jersey Sierra Club, said it was "unfair" to blame the wind projects for the deaths as it serves the interests of fossil fuel interests.
“We must pursue real solutions to protect marine wildlife such as finalizing strong vessel speed restrictions and curbing the impacts of climate change. One of the best ways we can fight climate change is through the equitable and safe development of renewable energy through our bedrock environmental laws and regulations," Ramos-Busot said.
According to the Marine Mammal Stranding Center, it has been a month since a dead whale has been spotted. The last one was March 24 when a decomposed pygmy sperm whale was stranded in Ocean City
Earth Day celebration
On the other side of the issue are politicians and those who want the wind projects to take a pause until further study can determine their impact.
The conservative groups Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow and Heartland Institute sponsored a banner plane flying over Atlantic City on Saturday with the website “SAVE-WHALES-STOP-WINDMILLS.ORG," according to the New York Post. They also put up a billboard on the Black Horse Pike in Pleasantville with the same message
“Let’s hope some court steps in to, at a minimum, place an injunction against any continued offshore wind energy development until proper environmental studies can be conducted,” Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow president David Rucker said in a statement.
U.S. Reps. Chris Smith, R-N.J. 4th District, and Jeff Van Drew, R-N.J. 2nd District, plus many Shore mayors have called for a moratorium in the work until a possible connection can be investigated.
Potosnak and Gov. Phil Murphy accuse those who want a moratorium of spreading misinformation.
(Includes material copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)