Eight dolphins have died in New Jersey after washing ashore a Sea Isle City beach on Tuesday.
According to the Marine Mammal Stranding Center, two dolphins died shortly after they were spotted on the beach while the six others were euthanized after a veterinarian determined their conditions were deteriorating so rapidly that returning them to the water would have prolonged their suffering in what would have resulted in an “inevitable death.”
Rescuers are pouring buckets of ocean water on the 6 of 8 stranded dolphins still alive on Sea Isle City beach. Dolphins can overheat fast so their skin needs to be kept cool & wet. Soaked towels & blankets are covering the dolphins, but always NOT covering fins or blowholes. pic.twitter.com/tRGdLho5cr— Steve Keeley (@KeeleyFox29) March 21, 2023
The mass stranding on Tuesday follows a dead dolphin washing up at a New Jersey marina last week, the sixth one to be found along the state’s shoreline in under a month.
In addition to dolphin deaths, nearly a dozen dead whales have washed up along the New Jersey-New York coast since December.
The spate of deaths has prompted lawmakers to call for a suspension of offshore wind projects until it can be determined why the animals are dying.
“It has been clear for a long time that Gov. Phil Murphy’s irrational green energy goals, facilitated by offshore wind projects, may pose significant risks to marine life. Since January, New Jersey has recorded an alarming number of whale deaths, and just earlier today, eight dolphins died after washing ashore in Sea Isle City. While the DEP claims there is no link between wind farms and damage to marine life, the logical thing to do would be to pause all offshore wind projects until we have more data,” said state Sen. Michael Testa, according to Insider NJ. “In addition to the health and safety of marine life, our coastal communities and the thriving commercial fisheries rely upon a healthy and safe ocean and these projects pose an unnecessary risk to that. Until the proponents can assure our region that these projects are not playing a part in these incidents, it would be wise to suspend the work.”
Assemblyman Erik Simonsen echoed that call.
“The only change in our waters recently has been the start of survey work for the construction of offshore wind farms—which seems like an awfully big coincidence to ignore. Our marine life must be safeguarded before any further progress can be made,” he said.
Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) also called for a pause on offshore wind projects.
“The mass stranding of eight dolphins in Sea Isle City is sadly just the latest tragedy in the unprecedented and growing loss of marine life along the Jersey Shore over the past few months that simply cannot be ignored,” he told the Daily Caller News Foundation. "Without serious, aggressive, and independent analysis on the ocean-altering impact of these projects, they must be paused."
In its March 15 statement, the NJ Department of Environmental Protection pointed instead to the adverse effects of climate change on marine life.
"All offshore wind survey activities have been permitted by NOAA Fisheries and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and deemed safe for marine mammals," the DEP said. "However, DEP remains concerned that ocean temperatures, which are projected to increase due to human-caused climate change caused primarily by the burning of fossil fuels, will continue to adversely impact marine mammals, including whales, their food sources, habitats, and migration patterns, as summarized in the New Jersey Scientific Report on Climate Change (Chapter 5.9)."
The eight dolphins that died on Tuesday will be sent to a state lab to determine the cause of death.
“We share in the public’s sorrow for these beautiful animals, and hope that the necropsies will help us understand the reason for their stranding,” the Marine Mammal Stranding Center said.