Whale Deaths Focus On Ocean Wind Turbines
The U.S. Navy and the National Marine Fisheries many years ago released a report acknowledging the role that the Navy’s sonar played in the deaths of 17 marine mammals in the Bahamas in 2000. The report was the agency’s first official admission that sonar may contribute to whale beachings.
A study concluded the low-frequency sound from the Navy’s sonar to damaged the whale’s ears, leading them to beach themselves.
The March 2000 stranding of 16 whales and a dolphin on Bahamian beaches was caused “by the unusual combination of several contributory factors acting together.”
Since January 2016 over 40 Whales have washed ashore from North Carolina to Maine. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Wind Energy Technologies Office (WETO) funds research to deploy offshore wind turbines.
The year 2016 was the first year the United States deployed ocean wind turbines which coincide with the whale beachings.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA, has declared an “Unusual Mortality Event,” prompting a federal probe.
In 2015 facing several lawsuits, the US Navy has finally agreed to limit its use of sonar devices that harm dolphins and whales, especially in areas off the coast of Hawaii and Southern California.
Scientists alarmed by “mortality disaster” among whales
From CBS News:
Marine scientists are alarmed by the deaths of six endangered North Atlantic right whales in Canadian waters during the past three weeks and say humans must help protect them.
North Atlantic right whales are among the mostlarge mammals on Earth, with only about 500 still alive. Mark Baumgartner, an associate scientist with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute on Cape Cod, said Friday the deaths are a “mortality disaster.”
The loss of so many right whales so quickly was probably last seen when whaling decimated their population in the 19th century, Baumgartner said. He said the deaths should be a call for humans to do more to protect the animals when possible.
“With such a small and declining population, right whales have little capacity to deal with both natural and human-caused mortality simultaneously,” he said.
The six carcasses were first sighted north of Prince Edward Island and southeast of Quebec’s Gaspe Peninsula. One was entangled in snow crab fishing gear, and the causes of the other five deaths are unknown, scientists said.
“For a small population like right whales, the difference between population growth and a path toward extinction can be the matter of a handful of animals,” said Scott Kraus, vice president and senior science adviser at the Anderson Cabot Center.