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Scientists continue investigating string of whale deaths on East Coast

More than a dozen whales have washed up in the tri-state area so far this year.

Rachel Yonkunas

Aug 25, 2023, 10:15 PM

Updated 298 days ago

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Another dead whale washed ashore on Long Island Friday. It was floating along the South Shore of Long Island before finally showing up next to Atlantic Beach in the Rockaways.
The Atlantic Marine Conservation Society is working to secure the humpback whale and eventually perform an animal autopsy.
Scientists continue to investigate a string of whale deaths along the East Coast. More than a dozen whales have washed up in the tri-state area so far this year.
Team 12 Investigates has learned that two dead whales found on Long Island beaches on Aug. 11 and Aug. 14 likely died from vessel strikes, according to preliminary findings from the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society.
Those findings are consistent with what scientists have seen in many of the recent whale deaths, which the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has declared as “an unusual mortality event” for humpback whales.
Since 2016, more than 200 dead whales have washed up along the East Coast. There have been more than 40 spotted in New York and at least 28 in New Jersey.
Scientists said ship strikes, climate change and infectious diseases have caused most of these deaths. NOAA has a team of scientists investigating and said more research is needed.
“We will continue to gather data to help us determine the cause of death for these mortality events. We will also continue to explore how sound, vessel and other human activities in the marine environment impact whales and other marine mammals,” NOAA stated.
Some politicians recently started blaming the deaths on efforts to build out on our water for offshore wind projects. A group of New Jersey mayors called for a moratorium on offshore wind activities until an investigation can rule them out entirely.
However, NOAA scientists said there is no evidence that suggests offshore wind projects have played a role in any of the whale deaths.
“At this point, there is no scientific evidence that noise resulting from offshore wind site characterization surveys could potentially cause mortality of whales. There are no known links between recent large whale mortalities and ongoing offshore wind surveys,” NOAA scientists stated.
Advocates of offshore wind projects argue that the same type of survey equipment that offshore wind is using has been used for decades—such as for dredging or seafloor mapping—and hasn’t had any significant impact on whale populations.
“The most dangerous to marine life is climate change and offshore wind will be an essential part of the clean energy future and the solution to climate change,” said Director of Public Lands for the Center for American Progress (CAP) Jenny Rowland-Shea.


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