Why Are So Many Whales Dying Along The NJ Coast?



NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) has classified the stranding of the whales as an Unusual Mortality Event. Many are demanding to know why these events keep happening.

Franc Romanowski, class of 2024, contributor

Whales continue to wash up along the Atlantic Coast, leaving many wondering what is causing the deaths of these magnificent animals. 


Over a short period of time, multiple whales have washed up on the coasts of the NJ shoreline. At this time, officials don’t seem to understand why so many whales have been washing up along the beaches. Many have speculated that the spike in deaths is being caused by offshore wind farm development but at this time, officials are failing to see connections between the wind farm development and the death of the whales.


“There are no known connections between any of this offshore wind activity and any whale stranding regardless of species,” Benjamin Laws, deputy chief for the permits and conservation division at NOAA Fisheries, said.


However, this has not quieted the noise regarding offshore wind development being a cause of the death of the whales. In fact, there are at least thirty mayors that are calling for a pause on the development of the wind farms.


“While we are not opposed to clean energy, we are concerned about the impacts these projects may be having on our environment”, they wrote in a letter to President Joe Biden and NJ Governor Phil Murphy.


So far, evaluations of the whales appear to show they sustained injuries that are consistent with those of being hit by a ship. NOAA has come to conclude that nearly 40% of the whales they could examine had wounds from being hit by a ship or getting caught in fishing gear.


 Whether it was caused by observation expeditions by those who were in charge of scoping the area in preparation for offshore wind development or accidents from those in the fishing or shipping business has yet to be seen. Still, those who are concerned over the deaths are demanding action be taken to protect the whales and to figure out how to prevent their deaths.


Currently, there is a petition to halt any work on the offshore wind development in NJ set up by Protect Our Coast NJ, but NJ Governor Phil Murphy has not guaranteed, even with thousands of signatures, that work on the facilities will halt or be stopped.