The second dead whale was discovered in less than a week in Virginia Beach, Virginia, miles from Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind (CVOW), one of two operational wind farms in federal waters.
Over the weekend, a critically endangered North Atlantic right whale was discovered washed ashore near Chic’s Beach which is located in Virginia Beach, the local media outlet WAVY-TV reported Monday. According to the outlet, there was no immediate cause of death and the whale didn’t appear to have any entanglement marks.
The discovery of the beached right whale came five days after a dead humpback whale was found off the coast of First Landing State Park in Virginia Beach.
“Earlier today, the Virginia Aquarium received a report of a dead humpback whale floating in the waters of Virginia Beach, near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay,” Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center said in a statement on Feb. 7. “Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Team personnel coordinated with the Virginia Beach Police Department’s Marine Patrol to determine the whale’s specific location.”
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“The Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Team is coordinating with the U.S. Coast Guard and Army Corps of Engineers to secure the whale near Lynnhaven Beach, by First Landing State Park. Arrangements are being made to bring the whale on shore,” it continued.
The dead whales are the latest to be discovered along the East Coast over the last several weeks. At least 10 other whales have been found on beaches in three other states with most coming in New Jersey.
In light of the uptick in whale deaths, local officials, lawmakers and conservationists have called for an immediate moratorium on all offshore wind development, arguing the construction and seismic testing associated with offshore wind farms may be harming marine life.
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“Over the course of the past several months, there have been repeated instances of dead whales washing up on New Jersey’s shoreline, and the proximity of nearby offshore wind development has raised concerns that ongoing activity on these projects may be contributing to whale fatalities,” Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., who represents a district that stretches along New Jersey’s eastern coastline, wrote to federal officials in late January.
“The federal government has a responsibility to ensure the Jersey Shore’s environmental viability, and any projects that may affect not only whales, but the broader marine ecosystem and the economy it sustains, must be comprehensively reviewed before allowed to proceed,” he continued.
Rep. Jeff Van Drew, R-N.J., 12 mayors representing coastal New Jersey communities and a coalition of environmental groups led by Clean Ocean Action have joined in on calls for a moratorium.
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The CVOW wind farm, meanwhile, is located 27 miles off the coast of Cape Henry, the point in Virginia Beach where both whales were discovered over the past week.
The 12-megawatt wind farm currently consists of two wind turbines, the first installed in federal waters, and opened as a pilot project in 2020. CVOW is expected to be fully constructed in 2026 and consist of 176 turbines across 112,800 acres in the Atlantic Ocean.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and CVOW’s operator Dominion Energy didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
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