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Common dolphin

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Mystery surrounds large number of whales washing up in US

Whale tail injured in collision with a vessel
Whale tail injured in collision with a vessel

A number of whales have washed up on the shores of New Jersey and New York in just a few weeks, an unusual occurrence that is concerning experts.

Reports suggest around twelve whales (including humpback and sperm) have come ashore since December 1st, prompting calls for a temporary halt in work on the ocean floor taking place in the region in preparation for the installation of an offshore wind farm.

There are fears that the underwater noise pollution caused by projects like these can disrupt the behaviour of whales and dolphins, and in some cases cause their deaths.

However, preliminary reports found at least two (possibly three) of the whales had blunt force trauma injuries that could have been caused by passing vessels. Samples from the whales have been taken, however, it may take some time to establish the actual casue of death.

One theory suggested links to the improvement in water quality and fish stocks causing the whales to hang around for longer seeking prey in an area with high boat traffic.

Currently, vessels are required to slow down if there are whales in the area, and move out of the way when whales are within 200 feet. However, sometimes larger ships can’t stop or turn quickly enough to avoid whales, and they don’t always hear ships coming.

Our WDC team in the US have been in touch with the relevant authroities there to determine if there have been recent activities that may have contributed to the deaths of these whales.

Find out more about WDC work to protect whales by reducing vessel speeds in the US


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