Environmentalists, fishing groups and federal officials are pushing back against claims that offshore wind farm construction in the Atlantic may have caused a recent string of whale deaths, including one in Amagansett on December 3.
Clean Ocean Action and several New Jersey lawmakers on January 9 called for a pause in construction and an investigation into the deaths. But last week, a coalition of advocates held a news conference arguing that there is “no evidence” of a link between the wind farm site work and whale deaths in New York and New Jersey.
The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management later said it too has found no such evidence.
“There is no information supporting that any of the equipment used in support of offshore wind development could directly lead to the death of a whale,” Benjamin Laws, deputy chief for permits and conservation with NOAA Fisheries Office of Protected Resources, told reporters. “There are no known connections between any offshore wind activities and any whale strandings.”
NOAA said there have been 14 whale strandings on the East Coast since December 1, including humpback whales, which are common in the area, and some sperm whales, which are an endangered species. Some were suspected of dying from ship strikes.
“This whole thing is being brought up as a hypothesis that has no basis in fact,” Capt. Paul Eidman, a charter boat captain and head of Anglers for Offshore Wind, told reporters. “I’m concerned by some groups’ baseless claims that the deaths are linked to surveys operating off our coast.”
Orsted, the Danish wind energy company involved in most of the projects, said its survey vessels have not struck any whales, and said the sampling methods do not disturb whales or other marine mammals. In response, Clean Ocean Action reiterated its call for a halt in the work.
-With Associated Press