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Dead sperm whale in The Wash, East Anglia, England. © CSIP-ZSL.

What have dead whales ever done for us?

When dead whales wash up on dry land they provide a vital food source for...
Risso's dolphin © Andy Knight

We’re getting to know Risso’s dolphins in Scotland so we can protect them

Citizen scientists in Scotland are helping us better understand Risso's dolphins by sending us their...
Pilot whales pooing © Christopher Swann

Talking crap and carcasses to protect our planet

We know we need to save the whale to save the world because they are...
Fin whales are targeted by Icelandic whalers

Speaking truth to power – my week giving whales a voice

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting is where governments come together to make decisions about whaling...

Why do whales and dolphins strand on beaches?

People often ask me 'why' whales and dolphins do one thing or another.  I'm a...
A spinner dolphin leaping © Andrew Sutton/Eco2

Head in a spin – my incredible spinner dolphin encounter

Sri Lanka is home to at least 30 species of whales and dolphins, from the...
Sperm whale (physeter macrocephalus) Gulf of California. The tail of a sperm whale.

To protect whales, we must stop ignoring the high seas

Almost two-thirds of the ocean, or 95% of the habitable space on Earth, are sloshing...
WDC team at UN Ocean conference

Give the ocean a chance – our message from the UN Ocean Conference

I'm looking out over the River Tejo in Lisbon, Portugal, reflecting on the astounding resilience...
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  • Create healthy seas
  • End captivity
  • Prevent deaths in nets
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Minke whale hunts stop in Iceland

Iceland’s commercial hunt of minke whales has ended for this year. The common minke whale is the...
Port River dolphins

New report reveals 100,000 dolphins and small whales hunted every year

When you hear the words ‘dolphin hunts’ it’s likely that you think of Japan or...

End the whale hunts! Icelandic fin whaler isolated as public mood shifts

Here’s a sight I hoped never again to witness. A boat being scrubbed and repainted...

Australian Government to block Japanese whaling proposal

Japanese Government officials have reportedly confirmed that they will propose the resumption of commercial whaling...

Pregnant whales once again a target for Japanese whalers

Figures from Japan's whaling expedition to Antarctica during the 2017/18 austral summer have revealed that...

Did Icelandic whalers really kill a blue whale?

*Warning - this blog contains an image that you may find upsetting* They say a...

Icelandic whalers breach international law and kill iconic, protected whale by mistake

Icelandic whalers out hunting fin whales for the first time in three years appear to...

Doubts remain after Icelandic Marine Institute claims slaughtered whale was a hybrid not a blue

Experts remain sceptical of initial test results issued by the Icelandic Marine Institute, which indicate...

Japan set to resume commercial whaling

Reports from Japan suggest that the government they will formally propose plans to resume commercial...

Norway's whaling season begins

April 1st saw the start of the whaling season in Norway. Despite a widely-accepted international moratorium...

Norway increases whaling quota despite declining demand

Norway's government has announced an increase in the number of minke whales that can be...

Icelandic fin whale hunting to resume

Iceland’s only fin whaling company, Hvalur hf,  announced today that it will resume fin whaling...

The Winding Way of Whales & Wind Farms

I recently attended a two-day workshop on Long Island on offshore wind development projects. You could say I was “blown away” (I’m a sucker for a good pun) by the number of people involved in the workshop-over 180! While we were primarily focusing on the wind farms planned for development off the coast of New York, there was a broad range of stakeholders in attendance. Most of the world’s existing wind farms are off European and UK coastlines, and while listening to the accented voices telling us about their experience in these areas, I set out to learn as much as I could about these wind energy projects and how they might potentially impact whales and other marine animals. If you’re wondering how these animals will be impacted, I will share the most common response that the experts shared: “It depends”.State of the Science Workshop

We don’t know much yet, and it DOES depend on a lot of things. Each wind farm and its impact to the surrounding environment varies based on a number of factors including: the type of seafloor (rocky vs. sandy), the number and size of the turbines, the number and size of substations (machines responsible for preparing the generated power for transfer to land via buried cables), the amount of pile driving involved for installing the wind turbines, the time of year at installation, proximity of certain marine animals, and the particular species found in each region, among many other things. What we do know is that whales and dolphins are acoustic animals, and so careful consideration is needed to make sure that their necessary communications are not disrupted; this goes beyond just offshore wind development, too – think seismic testing for oil, loud ship engines, etc.

The truth is that, when it comes to marine mammals at least, we don’t know the extent of potential wind farm impacts to large, migratory whales because this is the first time that wind farms are being built along a known migratory corridor. The Block Island Wind Farm, America’s first offshore wind farm, has only been operational for less than two years, which isn’t enough time to get a big picture understanding of how whales might be affected. It is located only a few miles from Block Island, off the coast of Rhode Island, an area where endangered North Atlantic right whales, among other species, have been seen in recent years. 

Additionally, a number of different environmental factors and human activities are having a cumulative impact on whales, making it hard to determine the specific impacts from each factor. Throwing offshore wind farms into the mix won’t make it any easier. And while the short-term impacts from the Block Island Wind Farm aren’t fully known thus far, there could be cumulative impacts that result from having multiple wind farms installed along the Atlantic migratory corridor. 

One thing that was made very clear during the workshop is that these offshore developments are proceeding and at a rapid pace. There are many steps (and years!) involved in building offshore wind farms, but currently there are 13 different leases issued to companies who are underway with this process. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is the federal agency responsible for issuing these leases and monitoring the progress of each wind farm site. It is important that we work with our fellow conservation partners to make sure whales and dolphins are being considered every step of the way. This includes attendance at these types of meetings, connecting with members of the industry, and submitting comments, based on many hours of careful data analysis to assess potential impacts, for BOEM’s consideration. Will you support us in this effort?