🔴 The mayors signed the letter to President Biden as the 8th whale in the past two months was found dead on a New Jersey New York area beach

🔴 Wildwood Crest Mayor Don Cabrera said a pause would help determine what's causing the deaths

🔴 Point Pleasant Beach Mayor Paul Kanitra called out the conflict of interest with some environmental groups

A dozen Jersey Shore mayors from Deal to North Wildwood signed a letter to President Joe Biden seeking an “immediate moratorium” on offshore energy development as the eighth whale washed up on New Jersey and New York beaches.

The latest whale was found Monday morning on Lido Beach on Long Island. Crews used a crane to pull the animal from the water so it would not be washed back out to sea. Researchers hope to perform a necropsy to better understand what might have caused the whale to beach itself.

The animal showed no obvious signs of trauma.

Concern about the impact of continued beached whales

The mayors in the letter said they are not opposed to clean energy but are concerned about their possible impact on the environment and tourism.

Wildwood Crest Mayor Don Cabrera is not fully convinced the whale deaths and the wind energy projects are related but the number of deaths is giving him second thoughts.

"I'm not convinced that they are, I'm not convinced that they aren't. I'm just saying, 'hey, something seems to be off here. Just rule that out. Before we move on," Cabrera said.

Carbrea said he is not a fan of the wind farms going up off the New Jersey coast and would like to see solar explored as a green energy option. As the mayor of a shore community, he is admittedly concerned about the impact of the farms and more beached whales.

"I think there's the marine life aspect of it. I think there's natural environment issues, I think there's tourism concerns? Tourism relates to business and economic concerns so it all ties in together," Cabrera said.

Beached whales in New Jersey and New York in December and January
Beached whales in New Jersey and New York in December and January (Townsquare Media/NOAA)

Environmentalists take sides

The beached whales have sparked debate among environmental groups about the role of the wind power industry.

On one side, Clean Ocean Action and other groups plus Rep. Jeff Van Drew, R-N.J., 2nd District, blame ongoing wind-energy activity offshore and have called for a pause until the issue can be studied.

On the other side are Gov. Phil Murphy and the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions, who say suggestions that the Garden State’s plan to construct a huge wind farm out in the ocean have anything to do with the whale tragedies are misguided.

"The only environmental groups that actually are saying that this is purely coincidental are big, large international ones, that have a larger stake in it," another signer of the letter, Point Pleasant Beach Mayor Paul Kanitra, told New Jersey 101.5. "Our local environmental groups, like Clean Ocean Action, are vehemently opposed to this and in support of the letter that we sent."

Some of the whale deaths have been determined to be the result of being struck by boats.

"The underlying question is why is there such a massive increase in the number of boat strikes. Obviously, whales use sonar and echolocation to navigate. So their echolocation may be getting messed up by what's going on right now. That may, in fact, be causing the boat strikes," Kanitra said.

(Includes material copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Dan Alexander is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at dan.alexander@townsquaremedia.com

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