2017-07-13 / News

State: Wind farm did not kill whale

Despite a report from a Newport news agency, state coastal experts said the whale that washed ashore at Beavertail in mid-June is not connected to the offshore wind farm near Block Island.

Using data compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the Coastal Resources Management Council reported there has been “no scientific evidence collected to-date of any whales being injured or stranded due to offshore wind.”

According to the state, data collected shows the operation sounds from offshore wind turbines generate sounds that are relatively low, approximately 134 decibels at the Block Island site constructed by Deepwater Wind. For comparison, rainstorms range in the 110-decibel level and fishing vessels create sounds that range from 150 decibels, the agency said.

Baleen whales, the state said, do not use sonar to navigate or feed, and are classified as low-frequency vocalizers. They generally produce grunts, moans and pulse trains to communicate. Humpback whales, like the animal found dead at Beavertail, are a species of baleen.

The state also reported the operational underwater noise measured at the wind farm can be heard by whales for short distances, but is expected to be silent beyond a few hundred meters from the foundation.

Scientific literature based on data collected in the United Kingdom states that “underwater noise from operation wind facilities is not considered significant.”

The federal agency said it plans to continue to monitor and assess potential impacts related to the construction and operation of wind farms on marine life, specifically whales.

Jeff Grybowski, chief executive of Deepwater Wind, said there is “absolutely no evidence” the turbines were connected to the Beavertail whale.

The mammal was removed June 23 from Beavertail. A necropsy was performed by scientists at Mystic Aquarium; results are pending. Following the study, the whale was buried, although the state Department of Environmental Management is not saying where the 32-foot carcass was laid to rest.

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