Protesters Ask For Answers To Whale Deaths

Protesters brought signs and listened to speakers. (Photo by Austin Downs)

  OCEAN COUNTY – “Save the Whales” has been a slogan since at least the 1970s, and now in 2023 it’s still being used by people concerned that offshore wind projects are leading to the deaths of these animals.

  There have been several dead whales that have washed up on the shore in recent weeks, which makes animal lovers wonder if the number of whale deaths is actually higher. Could there be other dead whales that didn’t wash up? They also have been asking, if something is killing these large, strong animals, what is happening to the rest of the creatures deep in the ocean?

  Leslie Mangold, a retired Central Regional High School teacher, spoke with Trisha DeVoe, a naturalist on the Miss Belmar Whale Watching boat, to see what they can put together to spark awareness. Word spread through social media and resulted in a huge crowd on the Point Pleasant Beach boardwalk.

The Point Pleasant Beach boardwalk was the home of the protest calling for wind turbine construction to halt. (Photo by Austin Downs)

  “We know something’s wrong. We don’t know what it is. We need to be asking questions,” DeVoe said.

  It wasn’t just these two women who helped bring attention to it. That was Valentine, a whale that got her name because she washed up in Manasquan on February 13, DeVoe said.

  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association said this whale’s death might have been caused by getting hit by a boat. NOAA has said that there’s no direct link to the wind turbines being built off New Jersey’s shore. As climate changes, animals move to places where they can survive better. In this case, the whales’ prey has moved closer to shore, which means that the whales will follow them, and be closer to humans. They said 40% of the whales have had evidence of boat strikes or entanglement.

  DeVoe and other concerned citizens spoke, as did Cindy Zipf of Clean Ocean Action, Bonnie Brady of the Center for Sustainable Fisheries, Point Beach Mayor Paul Kanitra, Seaside Park Mayor John Peterson, and Congressmen Jefferson Van Drew (R-2nd) and Chris Smith (R-4th).

  The whale population has been growing, and the waters are more clean than they’ve been, DeVoe said. “How can we go backwards now?”

Dozens of protesters called for a halt to building the windmills off the coast until the source of whale deaths could be learned. (Photo by Austin Downs)

  Recently, a letter was signed by 30 mayors all along the coast calling for an immediate moratorium on all offshore wind activity pending a thorough investigation by federal and state authorities. The officials represent the communities of Atlantic Highlands, Avon by the Sea, Barnegat Light, Bay Head, Beach Haven, Berkley, Brick, Brielle, Brigantine, Deal, Harvey Cedars, Linwood, Little Egg Harbor, Long Beach Township, Mantoloking, Margate City, North Wildwood, Ocean City, Point Pleasant, Point Pleasant Beach, Sea Girt, Seaside Park, Ship Bottom, Spring Lake, Stafford, Stone Harbor, Toms River, Ventnor City, Wildwood, and Wildwood Crest.

  According to the letter, they are concerned that the acoustic surveys used in the windmill process could damage their senses which would hurt their feeding and migration.

Dozens of protesters called for a halt to building the windmills off the coast until the source of whale deaths could be learned. (Photo by Austin Downs)

  The environmentalist have strange bedfellows in conservative politicians, at least with this topic. Some right wing commentators have posted conspiracy theories that the scientific community is covering up whale deaths to advance windmills. This has led to some marine mammal groups receiving threats, according to a Time article published the day before Valentine’s Day.