Whales and Wind Turbines

Upcoming Documentary "Thrown To The Wind" To Link Whale Deaths to Wind Turbines:

For years, the government has insisted that the increase in whale deaths off the East Coast has no relationship to the wind industry's high-decibel pile driving and boat activity. But now, a new documentary, "Thrown To The Wind," based on new research, will challenge that.

The film, according to environmental activist Michael Shellenberger, documents surprisingly loud, high-decibel sonar emitted by wind industry vessels when measured with state-of-the-art hydrophones. And it shows that the wind industry’s increased boat traffic is correlated directly with specific whale deaths.

“There appear to be at least two distinct mechanisms by which wind industry activities are killing whales. The first is through boat traffic in areas where that hasn’t historically been traffic. And the second is through high-decibel sonar mapping that can disorient whales, separate mothers from their calves, and send them into harm’s way, either into boat traffic or poorer feeding grounds,” Shellenberger claims.

“Whatever the case, “Thrown To The Wind” blows the lid off a major scientific scandal and will have an exponentially larger effect than past warnings.”

“... today, whales are once again under threat. Only this time, it isn’t whale hunters who are killing them. Instead, it’s the favored industry of the environmental movement itself: wind energy,” the campaigner wrote. MORE.

A new 30-minute documentary directed by Jonah Markowitz and produced by Public will feature original research and interviews the Save Right Whales Coalition, an alliance of grassroots environmental and community organizations, scientists, and conservationists. Environmental Progress helped found the Coalition in 2021 to protect the critically endangered right whale from the industrialization of their habitat through large-scale offshore wind energy development.

Titled "Thrown to the Wind," the documentary brings attention to an urgent issue: the potential connection between the expansion of offshore wind energy and the rise in whale deaths along the East Coast. It will feature original research and interviews by Save Right Whales Coalition members.

More Dead Whales Near Wind Projects in U.S. and Scotland

‘Never seen anything remotely like this’ in half a century: NJ fishing pros warn offshore wind killing ocean life

July 16th, 2023 – Lewis, Western Isles: The terrible sight of 55 Pilot whales washed up dead and dying on a remote Scottish beach caused a deep sense of sadness that resonated around the world.

July 20th, 2023: A Minke whale is found dead on the very same stretch of sand.

It’s clearly no coincidence that the whales perished in the same location, but what was the cause?

Although theories abound as to why these great mammals stranded, there is one glaringly obvious possibility that most people do not want to face – that noise caused by nearby windfarm survey work affected the whales’ delicate sonar, disorienting them and leading to their demise. MORE.

Facebook censors posts that show offshore wind farms as a threat to whales’ survival


Journalist Michael Shellenberger writes that Facebook is censoring information linking increased deaths of whales, dolphins, and other large marine animals to the development of large offshore wind farms. Shellenberger’s posts on Facebook and Instagram were declared false by the platforms. The decision was based on an article published by the “fact-check” blog FactCheckorg in March this year, which relies entirely on sources linked to the US government. It confirms that whales have had an unusually high mortality rate off the Atlantic coast since 2016, but that the reasons for this should instead be sought in whale collisions with ships and entanglements in fishing gear. The article does not see a link between their deaths and wind farm development, although it acknowledges that the issue needs to be investigated.

Continued at link.

Whistleblower Speaks Out: Offshore Wind Will Drive Whales to Extinction

Dec 4

Read our open letter below.

Dear Fellow Concerned Members of the Public,

The critically-endangered North Atlantic right whale, one of the most imperiled mammals in the world, seemed until just a few years ago to be on a path to recovery. It was our nation’s energy policy in the 18th century to kill the right whales for their oil, but the species was recovering after the 1982 ban on whaling took effect.

Today, the whale is in more danger than ever. An “unusual mortality event” beginning in 2017 has reduced the population by 30 percent. The North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium’s October 2022 count estimates that only 340 individuals survive, with fewer than 70 breeding females and an overall decline in body size. Major sources of stress today include fishing gear entanglements, vehicle collisions, and climate change.

But one source of danger to the right whale is rarely discussed: the industrialization of their habitat by offshore wind companies, enabled by two government agencies, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries (NOAA Fisheries) and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM). The head of New England Aquarium’s whale impact monitoring program has openly stated that the first offshore wind projects will serve as a “test bed” to study their impacts on the whale.

Dr. Sean A. Hayes, Chief, Protected Species Branch, NOAA Fisheries

A recently-surfaced letter from a whistleblower indicates that BOEM and NOAA were aware in May 2022 that offshore wind construction and operation posed a direct danger to the North Atlantic right whale.

The author, NOAA’s own Chief of Endangered Species, Dr. Sean Hayes, bravely sounded the alarm, noting that not only the construction but also the operation of wind turbines could result in extinction.

Yet these agencies have failed to put in place any meaningful measures to protect this critically endangered species from extinction.

By NOAA Fisheries’ own admission, “The potential biological removal (PBR) level for the species, defined as the maximum number of animals that can be removed annually while allowing the stock to reach or maintain its optimal sustainable population level, is less than 1.” In plain language, this means the death of a single whale could make the difference between extinction and recovery.

Recent data collection finds the whales are increasingly relying on the southern Massachusetts wind lease area as a last refuge for foraging and raising their young. Because the federally-designated critical right whale habitat is out of date, these very same areas have been approved by the federal government for industrialization by offshore wind companies.

For a long time it was unclear what effects the plants’ construction and operation might have on whales. Several groups including our coalition raised the alarm and called for a moratorium until more studies could be conducted.

In response to these concerns, NOAA Fisheries and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) in October this year released a draft joint strategy to “to protect and promote the recovery of North Atlantic right whales while responsibly developing offshore wind energy.” But this strategy is misleading – the authors frame their plan to meet their obligations under the Endangered Species Act as a mere “vision,” and there is little evidence that the proposed mitigation measures are effective, practicable or backed up by sufficient funds.

Our coalition’s public comments can be found here.

In order for the development of the projects to go forward, an Incidental Harassment Authorization (IHA) must be issued by NOAA when a federally listed marine mammal may be harmed. The issuance of an IHA requires that it is possible to fully mitigate the effects of any harassment, and from Hayes’ letter it is clear that this is not the case.

Hayes’ letter stresses that the presence of wind turbines would disrupt the dense populations of zooplankton that right whales rely on for food. Hayes describes the wind lease area as “the only known winter foraging area for right whales” and warns against the impacts not only from construction but also from the expected 30-year operation of offshore wind turbines on foraging grounds, which could “vary from hundreds of meters for local individual turbine impacts…to large-scale dipoles of surface elevation changes stretching hundreds of kilometers.”

Most damningly, he states, “impacts from installed and operating turbines cannot be mitigated for the 30-year lifespan of the project, unless they are decommissioned.”

A lawyer from the Conservation Law Foundation, an organization that is “strongly supportive of offshore wind,” acknowledged that the area slated for wind development was poorly surveyed for right whales prior to the permitting agencies selling 1,400 square miles of our federal waters to foreign wind energy companies.

NOAA and BOEM’s draft mitigation plan fails to address Hayes’ concerns. Additionally, it is interesting that the letter was not made available to the public until November when a local newspaper, the New Bedford Light, accessed it through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Hayes has risked his career and reputation by writing a letter of this seriousness. The international offshore wind industry is estimated to be worth $31.2 billion. Major conservation organizations, including the New England Aquarium and the Environmental League of Massachusetts, receive funding and sponsorships from offshore wind companies. Not to mention the weight of the Biden-Harris’s administration’s pro-offshore wind policy, backed by numerous large government agencies.

But evidence continues to mount. On November 24th, scientists published stronger evidence indicating that offshore wind operations “can have a substantial impact on the structuring of coastal marine ecosystems,” with effects far beyond the area of the turbines themselves.

With fewer than 350 North Atlantic right whales alive today, we must heed the science and call on the government to fulfill its obligations. The first large-scale offshore wind projects cannot serve as test beds to determine the impacts of turbines on a critically endangered species. And while climate change is an imperative, it is indefensible for any industrial project to push a species to extinction.

It was our own whaling industry that pushed the right whale to the brink. Today, our energy industry seems to be repeating its mistakes.

With this in mind, we are no longer calling for a moratorium. We are calling for the project to be canceled outright.

It is unacceptable for the government to allow large-scale industrial experiments in critical habitat for a species on the brink of extinction. The construction of industrial wind projects in any North Atlantic right whale habitat is, at this point, a clear violation of the Endangered Species Act.


The Save Right Whales Coalition

More Dead Whales Wash up in NY and NJ, Feds Continue to Deny Massive Wind Turbine Farms at Fault

More Dead Whales Wash up in NY and NJ, Feds Continue to Deny Massive Wind...

The Documentary is now available:


Thrown To The Wind

More hard evidence that the wind turbine industry is harming whales

By Rhoda Wilson on January 9, 2024

The push by the US government, the wind industry and the news media to build industrial wind projects proven to kill whales is the biggest environmental scandal in the world, says Michael Shellenberger.

Last year, Public released its documentary ‘Thrown to the Wind’ which exposed the price the world is actually paying for the industrialisation of our oceans by offshore wind corporations: the killing of whales and the potential extinction of an entire cetacean species.

Yesterday, Public released a follow-up documentary, ‘Thrown to the Wind, Part 2’, which provides more hard evidence that the wind industry is harming whales.

“We won a big victory last year, in helping to halt a wind project off the coast of New Jersey,” Shellenberger says. Unfortunately, plans are moving forward on the wind projects along the rest of the East Coast. “If they go forward, they will make the North Atlantic right whale extinct.”

Linowes tracked whale deaths within the same timeframe and location as offshore wind sonar surveys. “As the amount of offshore wind activity increased within an area,” she notes, “so did whale deaths.”

In last year’s “Thrown to the Wind” documentary, Rand documented illegally high levels of whale-harming sonar noise by the wind industry.

And now, in a sequel, “Thrown to the Wind, Part 2,” filmmaker Jonah Markowitz documents Rand measuring illegal levels of noise from pile-driving by the wind industry off of Martha’s Vineyard.

The boat crew can hear the noise through the air. “That’s loud to hear from here,” says one of the men. “And I got my ear muffs on and everything.”

It’s so loud that Rand has to adjust his equipment. “I am overloading,” he says. “I need to change my gain.”

Says one sailor, “Sounds like a noise from a horror movie.”

“Sounds like thunder coming in,” says another. “It’s insane.”

The sound is equivalent to the blast from a 155-millimeter Howitzer.

Continued at link...