The first ecological baseline study in advance of offshore wind development in U.S. waters was conducted in 2008-2010. This study included the first year-round, systematic surveys for marine mammals and sea turtles in nearshore waters off New Jersey. Results of these shipboard and aerial surveys were recently published in the Journal of Cetacean Research and Management.
The eight marine mammal species observed included the North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis), humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae), minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata), fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus), bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus), common dolphin (Delphinus delphis), harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena), and harbor seal (Phoca vitulina).
Our results indicated clear seasonal patterns in distribution and abundance. Fin and humpback whales were sighted during all seasons; however, the overall abundance of large whales in the study area was relatively low. Although bottlenose dolphins were sighted during all seasons, they were most abundant during spring and summer. Common dolphins and harbor porpoises were more common during winter and spring.
These baseline data are being used to assess potential environmental impacts of the construction and operation of offshore wind power facilities in this region.
The paper is available online.
Whitt, A.D., J.A. Powell, A.G. Richardson, and J.R. Bosyk. 2015. Abundance and distribution of marine mammals in nearshore waters off New Jersey, USA. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management 15:45–59.
Research was conducted by Geo-Marine Inc. (GMI) for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.