Cetaceans (dolphins, porpoises, and baleen whales) were a focus for this study because offshore wind energy facilities present significant increases in underwater noise during construction, which may affect all marine mammals. Our current lack of understanding of the hazards posed to baleen whales by offshore wind energy development make these species a particular concern for regulators in the U.S.
Download Mid-Atlantic Wildlife Studies: Distribution and Abundance of Wildlife along the Eastern Seaboard 2012-2014. This 32-page summary publication explores aspects of the mid-Atlantic ecosystem; describes our survey and analytical approaches; and presents a range of results, featuring several case studies on specific species or phenomena.
The Executive Summary for the technical report is also available here.
Cetaceans include two major types of aquatic mammals. Toothed whales, such as dolphins and porpoises, have rows of teeth and eat fish and other large prey. They are capable of echolocation, using sound to sense objects around them. Baleen whales, including many of the large endangered whale species, eat krill, copepods, and small fish by filtering them through bristles or plates on their jaws. While baleen whales do not echolocate, they use sound for communication, particularly during the breeding season. Cetacean migratory routes are poorly defined for many species, although several are known to migrate through the mid-Atlantic. All cetaceans that occur in the U.S. are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
Acoustic disturbance from construction and operation of offshore wind facilities may affect all marine mammals. European studies have shown displacement of Harbor Porpoises during construction, though displacement during operations has been variable. There is evidence for disturbance of large whales by other anthropogenic activities, but no information is available about their interactions with offshore wind facilities, as large whales are not common in European waters where development has occurred to date.
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