Whales are majestic creatures that have captured the imagination of people worldwide. But, unfortunately, the whales that inhabit the waters off the New Jersey shore face a dire situation. Over the past several years, the death toll of whales and dolphins in this area has steadily risen. The causes of these deaths are complex and multifaceted, and there are many different theories as to why this is happening.
One of the main questions people ask is why whales are dying on the east coast. Several different factors are contributing to this problem. One of the most significant causes is human interactions with these creatures.
As the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection pointed out, around 40% of whale deaths on the East Coast are directly related to human activities. Ship strikes and net entanglements are among these animals’ most common causes of death.
Another factor that is contributing to the problem is the warming of the waters off the New Jersey coast. As the water temperature increases, it can cause significant distress for marine mammals. This can lead to respiratory problems, infections, and other issues resulting in death.
One theory that has gained much attention in recent years is that offshore wind farms contribute to the deaths of whales and dolphins in this area. Some advocates have suggested that the acoustic surveys used to map the ocean floor in preparation for wind farm construction are causing significant harm to these creatures. However, marine biology experts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the offshore wind industry, and university labs agree there is no credible link between acoustic surveying and recent marine mammal deaths. Data shows that most ocean animals cannot even hear the noises made by offshore wind surveying equipment.
It is essential to note that construction has yet to begin on the giant turbines used in offshore wind farms. This means these metal towers and the big boats carrying them out to sea cannot yet be implicated in the ship strikes responsible for some whale deaths. Therefore, focusing on other factors contributing to this problem is crucial.
One of the most significant challenges facing investigators is determining the cause of death for these animals. Detecting hearing damage in a deceased whale can pose a challenge during an autopsy. The inner ear decomposes rapidly, often before the stranded mammal is brought to shore. Therefore, it is essential to take a comprehensive approach to investigate this issue and to consider all possible causes.
It is also important to note that misinformation about offshore wind farms and their impact on whale populations has spread rapidly on social media. According to a report released by the nonprofit Media Matters for America, over 80% of Facebook posts that mentioned wind energy contained misinformation about offshore wind farms and whale populations. This misinformation can cause unnecessary alarm and lead to misguided efforts to address the problem.
Despite the challenges facing investigators, several steps can be taken to help protect whales and dolphins off the New Jersey shore. One of the most important steps is to reduce human interactions with these creatures. This can include reducing shipping traffic in areas where whales and dolphins are known to congregate and implementing measures to prevent entanglement in fishing gear.
Another critical step is to monitor these animals’ health closely. By collecting data on the causes of death and other factors contributing to their decline, researchers can better understand how to protect these creatures and their habitats.
The circumstances causing the deaths of the whales are still under investigation.