“As of mid-March 2023, NOAA Fisheries has handed out 15 marine mammal Incidental Take Authorizations (ITAs) to offshore wind projects from NC to MA. These will allow companies to ‘take’ 111,817 whales, dolphins and seals. The harassment, injury, and killing of marine mammals are referred to as ‘takes’.”
Let the debate continue on the cause of the recent surge of whale deaths in the vicinity of several wind farms off the northeastern coast. But note the case of such a causal relationship, which appears to be growing, not receding.
Consider this letter from a local citizen in the local newspaper, EastBayRI (May 10, 2023), “‘Take’ authorizations prove NOAA is lying about whale deaths:
The marine science community knows this much for certain: The high-resolution geophysical (HRG) surveys used to site offshore wind turbines and transmission cabling causes harm and mortality to marine mammals. They know the intense noise of pounding thousands of monopiles deep into the seabed, along with an exponential increase of vessel traffic during construction and for maintenance afterwards will do the same—disturb, injure, and kill marine life.
Here’s the proof: As of mid-March 2023, NOAA Fisheries has handed out 15 marine mammal Incidental Take Authorizations (ITAs) to offshore wind projects from NC to MA. These will allow companies to “take” 111,817 whales, dolphins and seals. The harassment, injury, and killing of marine mammals are referred to as “takes.”
The 111,817 figure is the tally of 118 “Level A” and 111,699 “Level B” takes. Level A includes permanent hearing loss and other bodily injury. Level B harassment includes behavioral disturbance (such as frightening an animal from its normal feeding area) and temporary hearing loss. A deafened whale fleeing into a shipping channel is likely a dead whale.
It is illegal to take any federally listed animal, that is, unless one applies for and is granted an ITA. An “incidental” take is defined as, “an unintentional, but not unexpected taking of a protected species.”
NOAA is in the final stages of approving an additional 1,272 Level A and 477,285 Level B takes of marine mammals for another 11 wind projects. Soon the approved ITA count will permit wind companies to disturb, injure or cause the death of 590,374 marine mammals. These figures were compiled by carefully searching 26 individual wind project ITA requests. NOAA either does not have or will not share cumulative take numbers.
The data reveals that NOAA has either granted or is in the final stages of granting Level B takes for 915 critically endangered North Atlantic right whales, of which there are only 334 remaining animals alive. Either this means NOAA and the wind companies expect repeated harassment (including recurrent hearing impairment) of numerous right whales, or they have not taken the trouble to realize they have granted more “takes” than the number of live whales who exist today.
A total of 387 A and 21,704 B takes have been or are close to being approved for whales. These numbers include the taking of five species of endangered whales. For eight dolphin species A takes total 140; B takes total 474,605. A takes total 658 for harbor porpoise; B takes total 24,122 porpoises. A takes total 205 harbor, grey, and harp seals; B takes total 68,553 seals.
The numbers of “not unexpected” harassment and injury of marine mammals are staggering.
NOAA states in its February posting of Sunrise Wind’s ITA request (NOAA-NMFS-2023-0012): “Project activities likely to result in incidental take include pile driving…and vessel-based site assessment surveys using HRG equipment.”
Still NOAA has only one answer to the question being asked by thousands of coastal residents as to whether wind companies’ recent seismic testing might be related to the highly unusual number of whale strandings: NO.
Why are they lying?
This is as good a place as any, to add this link.
U.S. Navy’s sonar and explosives may hurt dolphins and whales more than previously thought causing creatures to go deaf or die
From 2012, you’d think we would learn?
The U.S. Navy says its training and testing using sonar and explosives could potentially hurt more dolphins and whales in Hawaii and California waters than previously thought.
The Navy estimates its use of explosives and sonar may unintentionally cause more than 1,600 instances of hearing loss or other injury to marine mammals in one year.
The service calculates that its use of explosives may inadvertently cause more than 200 marine mammal deaths a year.
The new research and more thorough analysis are part of a draft environmental impact statement covering Navy training and testing planned for 2014-2018. Unquote.
Since you and Constance Gee have covered this heinous allowance of killing of sea animals so thoroughly, allow me to look at a different, but also condemning aspect of these offshore killing fields. Climate change “experts” are the ones screaming of progressively severe and frequent storms in the oceans. If this prediction is accurate, and they are absolutely convinced they are, the transport of turbine parts, the construction of turbines, the ability of turbines to withstand these frequent and increasingly severe storms, the ability to reach them for maintenance and repairs, the recovery of exploded and otherwise broken parts scattered in the ocean, and the dismantling of destroyed turbines will surely be difficult if not impossible. Is the killing of these precious, vital marine animals really worth this stupidity? The answer is pretty clear! Isn’t NOAA charged with protection of the oceans? Again, these predictions come from the same scientists who support offshore wind. It sounds incredibly contradictory to me!
Thanks, Ms Albright, Suzanne. An excellent observation.
Already offshore turbines in Europe are aging and prematurely requiring decommissioning.
Will they simply unhook the PFAS laced blades, and dump them?
So many questions …..this has to be the worst conceived idea: pollute the oceans, destroy migration routes and feeding grounds for all in the air and waters ….
Severe storms…and a complete lack of integrity and common sense.
Thank you for a superb comment.
This makes me utterly sick to my stomach. We must stop this killing of our marine animals from happening. We fight every day. We have no choice but to fight.
Thanks, Lee Evans. YES, gut wrenching for sure. The sheer incomprehensibility of the killing, for unimaginable lies about climate: it’s OK to kill wildlife, whales, dolphins, because we are saving the planet? So amazingly corrupt and incorrect. Soon though, we are at the end of the wind turbine, solar panel debacle. The world is waking from a nightmare of killing fields. The developers will hang on to profits as long as they can, but the public purse only can bear so much.
Thank you so much for commenting, and in this real manner.
Why risk your credibility in the opening paragraph by misrepresenting a daft piece of regulatory inflation as an existential threat to wildlife? You have overstated your case by a literal factor of a thousand:
As ou admit on the same page :”The 111,817 figure is the tally of 118 “Level A” and 111,699 “Level B” takes. Level A includes permanent hearing loss and other bodily injury. Level B harassment includes behavioral disturbance (such as frightening an animal from its normal feeding area) and temporary hearing loss.
Why do you presume “A deafened whale fleeing into a shipping channel is likely a dead whale.” when the submarine noise making at issue would take place not in shipping lanes, but coastal waters. Stop regurgitating oil patch press releases like so much ambergris and do some scientific homework for change.
For all the pr sound and fury, a taking license is not a death warrant, and non-existent wind farms kill no whales.
I cannot claim to be entirely disinterested in this matter. Having spent years on Nantucket and months in the Grenadines I number among my friends a few representatives of a truly endangered species: harpooners.