The third dead whale was discovered in less than a week off the southeastern coast of 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, Virginia, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) confirmed to Fox News Digital on Monday. According to local news outlets, 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 just two days after a humpback whale was found dead along the shoreline in Cape Charles, Virginia, and five days after a dead humpback whale was found off the coast of First Landing State Park in Virginia Beach.
“There have been 3 large whale strandings in VA over the past week, two humpbacks and more recently a North Atlantic right whale,” NOAA spokesperson Allison Ferreira told Fox News Digital in an email. “We are investigating all of these incidents in collaboration with our stranding network partners.”
Ferreira said the first whale was a 36-foot male with no obvious signs of recent entanglement or interactions with ships and the second whale, a 23-foot female, was significantly decomposed making it impossible to assess its injuries. The third whale, a 43-foot male Atlantic right whale, is being prepared for examination.
NOAA has recently reiterated that an unusual mortality event along the East Coast has been declared for both the humpback whale and Atlantic right whale species.
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.
“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,” Smith 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.
The CVOW wind farm, meanwhile, is located 27 miles off the coast of Cape Henry, the point in Virginia Beach where two of the whales were discovered over the past week and near where the third was found.
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.
CVOW’s operator Dominion Energy didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.