Calls grow for federal probe into whale deaths along Northeast beaches

Some environmentalists and legislators have called for a halt in offshore wind production, but there has not been any evidence found during previous investigations that wind farm construction has contributed to an Unusual Mortality Event.

A seventh whale found dead along the coast of the Northeast over the last month and a half has many calling for immediate action until the cause behind the unusual event can be determined.

Since early December, a mixture of humpback and sperm whales have been reported dead along various beaches in New York and New Jersey.

The sight of the dead whales has sparked an outcry from some environmentalists and legislators demanding that action be taken while an investigation progresses.

In a recent letter addressed to President Biden, groups demanded that the investigation be independent, a stoppage issued for all offshore wind production and a ceasing of construction on any future facilities.


"The wave of dead whales is the ocean sounding the alarm, and we must heed the warning," Cindy Zipf, executive director of Clean Ocean Action, said in a statement.

The news of beached whales also has New Jersey Congressman Jeff Van Drew demanding a halt to offshore wind activities until he is confident that the industry does not pose a threat to marine life.

The Garden State is aiming to be one of the top generators of energy from offshore wind farms, but many of the projects are in their infancy stages with estimated completion dates that are still several years away.


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s fisheries division has been tracking an increase in humpback whale mortalities since 2016, but information gathered from completed necropsy examinations has not linked the development or use of offshore wind farms to the deaths of whales.

Before the recent uptick in mortalities, NOAA reported the largest cause of non-natural deaths from Maine to Florida was due to human interactions, either by ship strikes or fishing entanglements.

The recent uptick in reported deaths is paramount to state and federal agencies who say they are working around the clock to determine the cause.

"We are asking for patience as our small staff is entirely focused on performing our work in the most professional and scientific manner. As with all large whales, our samples are sent to pathologists and other researchers who are tasked with investigating whale mortalities. These results can take several months to come back before a cause of death can be determined, if at all," the nonprofit Marine Mammal Stranding Center stated.

NOAA is also monitoring Unusual Mortality Events involving manatees in Florida, seals in Maine, North Atlantic right whales along the Atlantic coast and gray whales in the Pacific.

None of the declared events have been tied to offshore development, and biologists report boat strikes, entanglements, ecological changes and diseases as leading causes of deaths.