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Ninth Whale Death Renews Calls in New Jersey to Halt Offshore Wind Projects

A whale washed ashore in Manasquan, New Jersey, on Monday – the ninth whale found dead since early December on the New York-New Jersey shores — further stoking the debate about what’s causing the frequent mortalities along the Atlantic Coast.

“I’m currently standing on the beach a few hundred feet from the Manasquan Inlet watching yet another dead whale wash into the surf,” Point Pleasant Beach Mayor Paul Kanitra posted on Facebook on Monday. “Governor, when do these stop becoming coincidences? How many more will it take?”

What’s behind the whale mortalities has not been clearly established, but theories abound. Some local activists and officials blame offshore wind development in the region, claiming construction of the sites causes harm to marine animals. But federal officials have pushed back, saying that’s not what the evidence shows.

Kanitra was one of 12 New Jersey mayors who wrote a letter to New Jersey’s congressional delegation at the end of January demanding a moratorium on all offshore wind activities until “further investigation is held by federal and state agencies that determine these activities are not a contributing factor to recent whale deaths.”

There have been 10 humpback whale deaths in 2023, with six of those deaths occurring in the New Jersey-New York regions, according to Unusual Mortality Event statistics collected by NOAA Fisheries. Since the agency began collecting the data on Jan.1, 2016, there have been 183 deaths, with a majority of them occurring along the Eastern Seaboard in Massachusetts, New York, and overwhelmingly in New Jersey.

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