7th beached whale this season: NJ lawmaker blames ‘Green New Deal’
BRIGANTINE — The seventh whale in the past month to wash up on a beach in the New Jersey-New York region was found Thursday.
A Republican congressman from South Jersey on Friday criticized Democratic environmental policies after green advocates this week called for an investigation into whether off-shore wind developments might be to blame.
Gov. Phil Murphy on Friday said he does not believe that off-shore work related to wind development should be halted in the meantime, telling NJ.com that this has been happening since 2016 and that some of the whales appear to have been struck by vessels.
Whale washes ashore on Thursday
A humpback whale was first reported to the Marine Mammal Stranding Center at the North End Natural Area on the beach in Brigantine around 4:50 p.m.
Staff went to the beach and confirmed the sighting but did not begin their investigation until Friday because of the incoming tide and low light.
A visual assessment by their staff estimates the whale to be 20-25 feet in length and a sub-adult.
The NOAA Fisheries New England/Mid-Atlantic said it is working with the stranding center, Atlantic Marine Conservation Society, Mystic Aquarium, and MERR Institute to closely inspect the whale and perform a necropsy.
The stranding center said that erosion in the area makes it hazardous to access.
Seven whales wash ashore in just over a month
On Dec. 5, an infant sperm whale washed ashore in Keansburg, and on Dec. 10, a juvenile humpback whale was spotted along Strathmere Beach. Dead whales were found off of New York's coast on Dec. 6 and Dec. 12. Two whales washed up in Atlantic City on Dec. 23 and on Saturday.
Earlier this week, Clean Ocean Action called the deaths "an urgent, timely and grave concern" and called for President Joseph Biden to open an investigation into their deaths.
Cindy Zipf, executive director of Long Branch-based Clean Ocean Action wants a pause on all current offshore wind energy development activity within the region until the cause of the marine mammal deaths is determined.
"We're not opposed to the idea of offshore wind development, but we want to make sure it's done right," Zipf said at a press conference. "Until we know more, this is all too much, too fast."
Gov. Phil Murphy during an event Friday was asked about if he would heed the request from Zipf.
"No I don't think so although we're taking it very seriously," Murphy said. "It's tragic obviously."
The governor said that according to NOAA there's been an increase in fatal beached whale incidents since 2016 which was several years before off shore wind activity.
"It also looks like some of these whales have been hit by vessels," Murphy said.
Van Drew: Green New Deal agenda to blame
Rep. Jeff Van Drew, R-N.J. 2nd District, backed Clean Ocean Action's request in a statement Friday and blamed both Biden and Gov. Phil Murphy for pushing offshore wind energy.
"Ocean life is being put at risk as our governor and president force through their Green New Deal policies, without giving full consideration to their real-world impacts," Van Drew said. "We have seen a complete lack of transparency from New Jersey's leaders, as well as D.C. politicians who are ramming through these projects in order to push their climate agenda."
Previous reporting by Rick Rickman and Dino Flammia was used in this report