A shocking new documentary titled “Thrown to the Wind” has unveiled a distressing reality off America’s east coast: record numbers of endangered whales are being killed, with 62 deaths recorded in the past nine months alone. The culprits? Three massive wind farms have emerged as environmentally friendly power generators. While renewable energy sources are vital for combatting Climate change, their unintended consequences on marine life have raised alarms.
The North Atlantic Right Whale, one of the most endangered whale species, has seen its population plummet to a mere 340 individuals. These gentle giants are facing an unprecedented threat due to the proliferation of wind farms along the eastern seaboard. The tragic death toll and shrinking numbers of these whales have stirred concern among activists and politicians alike.
Executive producer Michael Shellenberger asserts that the wind turbines themselves and the underwater constructions supporting them are not directly responsible for the escalating marine disaster. Instead, he identifies two distinct mechanisms through which wind farm activities are contributing to whale fatalities.
Increased Boat Traffic: One of the primary causes of whale deaths in the vicinity of wind farms is the surge in boat traffic in previously untrafficked areas. These maritime highways have become bustling zones due to wind farm installations. Tragically, these increased encounters between whales and boats are often fatal for the marine giants.
High-Decibel Sonar Mapping: Another concerning factor is the use of high-decibel sonar mapping, which has the potential to disorient whales, separate mothers from their calves, and lead them into harm’s way. This harm can manifest as collisions with boats or displacement to less suitable feeding grounds, exacerbating the peril faced by these creatures.
To substantiate these claims, underwater acoustics scientist Rob Rand and his team conducted studies to measure the levels of sound emitted as a result of “industrial wind activity.” They discovered high-decibel emissions that sounded like intense pile-driving, potentially violating protective standards for marine life.
These alarming findings were presented to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. However, the government agency has declined to comment on the matter. This has only fueled calls for a comprehensive investigation into the issue and the implementation of measures to mitigate the impact of wind farms on whale populations.
The documentary “Thrown to the Wind” has ignited a widespread outcry, with more than six million people viewing it online in just two weeks. Activists and members of Congress are now joining forces to demand a government probe and the implementation of measures to safeguard these magnificent creatures. Michael Shellenberger, the executive producer of the documentary, believes that ending sonar mapping and curtailing boat activity in previously untouched areas could potentially save the North Atlantic Right Whale and other vulnerable species.
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This article by Trinity SParke was first published by One Green Planet on 7 September 2023. Image Credit :Craig Lambert Photography/Shutterstock.