A whale washed ashore in Manasquan, New Jersey, on Monday – the ninth whale found dead since early December off the coast of New York and New Jersey – further fueling the debate about what is causing the frequent deaths on the Atlantic coast.

“I am currently standing on the beach a few hundred feet from Manasquan Bay watching another dead whale wash up in the surf,” Point Pleasant Beach Mayor Paul Canitra wrote on Facebook Monday. “Governor, when will this stop being a coincidence? How much more will it take?”

On Monday, the whale washed ashore in Manasquan, New Jersey.

Point Pleasant Beach Mayor Paul Canitra via Facebook

What is behind the death of the whales is not exactly established, but there are many theories. Some local activists and officials have blamed the development of offshore wind energy in the region, arguing that the construction of the sites is harming marine life. But federal officials pushed back, saying that’s not what the evidence shows.

Canitra was one of 12 New Jersey mayors who wrote a letter to New Jersey’s congressional delegation in late January demanding a moratorium on all wind energy activity until “federal and state authorities conduct further investigations that determine that this activity is not a contributing factor to the recent whale deaths.’

In 2023, 10 humpback whale deaths were reported, with six occurring in the New Jersey-New York region. according to unusual mortality statistics collected by NOAA Fisheries. Since the agency began collecting data on January 1, 2016, 183 deaths have been reported, with most of them occurring on the East Coast in Massachusetts, New York and the vast majority in New Jersey.

Some activists and officials say the deaths are linked to the growth of offshore wind projects, which are part of the Biden administration’s goal to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2030, “enough to cleanly power 10 million homes.” says the administration. In February 2022, six areas with a total area of ​​more than 488 thousand hectares will be leased were opened through competitive bidding for the development of wind power in the oceanic region of the New York Bay.

“The Biden administration and Governor Murphy continue to ignore vociferous calls for an investigation into the historic surge of dead whales, while offshore wind builds up on our beaches,” said Rep. Chris Smith, R-NJ. statement on its website Tuesday.

There are currently four offshore wind projects in New Jersey, according to the government agency the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which lists projects on its website. New York has three projects are under implementation, the agency reports. These projects include seabed research.

NOAA Fisheries stated that “there is no evidence to support the suggestion that noise from site characterization surveys associated with wind development could potentially cause whale deaths, and there is no specific link between recent large whale deaths and research being conducted at present”.

During a conference call with reporters on January 18, experts convened by NOAA rejected the idea that the number of whale deaths was related to offshore wind activity. Autopsies were performed on more than half of the dead whales, and about 40% of the deaths showed they died as a result of entanglement or collision with a vessel, said Sarah Wilkin, coordinator of NOAA’s marine mammal health and strandings program.

“It is human interaction that is potentially associated with animal mortality, resulting in injury and death. Other animals have not produced results, and that’s for a variety of reasons,” Wilkin said. “Typically, the state of decomposition plays a big role, and that can make it difficult for us to determine the ultimate cause of death.”

It was the 9th whale found off the coast of New York and New Jersey since early December.

Point Pleasant Beach Mayor Paul Canitra via Facebook


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