Ninth dead humpback whale on the Jersey shore since December 1, 2022. Photo by Doug Hood.

NJ - We can't let the GOP weaponize NJ's dead whales | Opinion

New Jersey summers always include the pods of dolphins and whales jumping out of the water together. Now, they are returning deceased on our shorelines. These events are devastating, but have since morphed into a ploy against new offshore wind development.

The Biden administration aims to combat the climate crisis at the root by generating 30 gigawatts of clean energy by 2030 to split from fossil fuels that are largely responsible for global warming. This will power 10 million homes, create over 75,000 jobs, and generate a new investment market as well, yet this solution has wrongly become the villain in the narrative. Private citizens and environmental groups have rallied over recent months to express theirconcern over the sharp increase of cetacean deaths, and many blame these new offshore wind turbines, believing the sounds produced lead whales to become disoriented in their echolocation and strand themselves. However, the Journal of Marine Science and Engineering states that these development instruments use sound frequencies higher than the range whales can even hear. Yes, the Marine Mammal Protection Act classifies offshore wind as a Level B harassment, meaning it can interfere with the daily habits of whales, but even whale watching or being inproximity to them constitutes as such.

The biggest threat to whales continues to be climate change. As ocean temperatures continue to warm, fish species migrate into different areas than usual. Whales follow these prey, which often are either closer to shore, or in heavily-occupied shipping lanes. Ship "highways" are more frequented than ever before due to online shopping increases since the pandemic (27% more), and in conjunction with adapting prey, casualties arise.

More perspective:Save NJ's whales? Or screw the wind farms? Trump tropes flow at Wildwood 'hearing' | Charlie Stile

But how would whales fare with our fossil fuel reliance? The aforementioned MMPA classifies fossil fuel endeavors into Level A (more dangerous), as the air guns used to penetrate into ocean floors are much louder than alternatives. Douglas Nowacek, a marine biologist at Duke University, notes it is the loudest sound humans regularly emit into the ocean. Louder than military sonars. Not only have these been proven to directly harm whales’ wellbeing, but they displace and kill their prey as well.

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