The Wind Industry’s Ignored Consequences: Whales in Peril

Michael Shellenberger has an article in the New York Post titled:

New documentary ‘proves’ building offshore wind farms does kill whales

He describes how the documentary titled: “Thrown To The Wind” sheds light on a disturbing correlation between the wind industry and the alarming increase in cetacean deaths.

The Government’s Stance vs. The Documentary’s Findings

“The increase in whale, dolphin, and other cetacean deaths off the East Coast of the United States since 2016 is not due to the construction of large industrial wind turbines, U.S. government officials say. Their scientists have done the research, they say, to prove that whatever is killing the whales is completely unrelated to the wind industry.”

Yet, the documentary, produced by Jonah Markowitz, suggests otherwise.

“The film documents surprisingly loud, high-decibel sonar emitted by wind industry vessels when measured with state-of-the-art hydrophones. And it shows that the wind industry’s increased boat traffic is correlated directly with specific whale deaths.”

The North Atlantic Right Whale: A Species in Decline

The North Atlantic right whale, a species already on the brink, has seen its population drop from over 400 to a mere 340 in recent years.

“And, there have been more than 60 recorded whale deaths of all species on the East Coast since Dec 1, 2022, a number that increased markedly since 2016 when the wind industry started to ramp up.”

Ignoring the Warnings

Despite urgent warnings from leading conservation groups and top scientists at the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), wind projects continue to move forward.

“The waters off New York and New Jersey have seen a sudden upsurge in whale deaths this year.”

The Mechanisms of Death

The documentary highlights two primary mechanisms by which wind industry activities are harming whales.

“The first is through boat traffic in areas where there hasn’t historically been traffic. The second is through high-decibel sonar mapping that can disorient whales, separate mothers from their calves, and send them into harm’s way, either into boat traffic or poorer feeding grounds.”

The Role of Money and Influence

It’s hard to ignore the influence of money in this scenario.

“Wind energy companies and their foundations have donated nearly $4.7 million to at least three dozen major environmental organizations.”

Furthermore, attempts to shed light on the issue have faced challenges.

“Facebook went so far as to censor my post linking whale deaths to wind energy off the East Coast of the United States.”

A Call to Action

Given the evidence presented in “Thrown To The Wind,” it’s evident that the public cannot trust certain government agencies. Schellenberger writes:

it’s clear that the American people and our representatives cannot trust NOAA and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), the two government agencies that, for years, have repeatedly betrayed the public’s trust in service to powerful industrial interests.


The wind industry’s impact on marine life, particularly the North Atlantic right whale, cannot be ignored. It’s time for a serious discussion of the true cost of so-called “sustainable” energy.

Read the full article at the New York Post.

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A happy little debunker
August 28, 2023 11:26 pm

No wonder sailing boats are under attack around Spain and the entrance to the Mediterranean.
Whales hate the wind power loonies more than right thinking humans do…

Reply to  A happy little debunker
August 29, 2023 4:21 am

All ships and small vessels emit sonar beams all the time everywhere. Not a single whale death has ever been attributed, as in demonstrated, to be due to any sonar signal anywhere.

If you would support ending sonar searches, the entire world economy would instantly come crashing down because nobody could move any products by water, seas or inland waters. You would also end the boating industry, the fishing industry, and severely curtail all naval forces in existance making it impossible for them to operate and defend us.

This tripe is unworthy of WUWT, yet they keep quoting this doofus who has far less evidence in support of his insanity – zero evidence to be exact – than any other crackpot conspiracy theorist.

Reply to  Duane
August 29, 2023 4:59 am

All ships and small vessels emit sonar beams all the time everywhere.”

Typical nonsense from d.

All the craft you describe do not use high decibel sonar!
The craft mapping the seabed do use high decibel sonar.

Reply to  Duane
August 29, 2023 5:04 am

> All ships and small vessels emit sonar beams all the time everywhere.

Absolute nonsense. When they DO “emit sonar beams, it’s low powered depth sounders and they are not used in deep water.

Reply to  Duane
August 29, 2023 5:42 am

Duane, please don’t write such rubbish. You are (deliberately?) confusing small, shallow-water low-power sonar sets with the very high-power sonars used in sub-bottom profilers. To say that all ships and small vessels emit sonar beams all the time everywhere is just flat wrong. Vessels entering/leaving port turn their low-power sonar off when they get into deep water – they might as well, since they won’t reach the bottom anyway.
Nobody is accusing anyone of stopping small echo-sounder use. The question is the use of sub-bottom profilers and other high-powered equipment for exploration and installations. Your point about naval sonars has some validity, but there are plenty of eco-freaks monitoring those.
Finally, I think you will find that there have been several cetaceans found with damage to their ears which have not been proved to be the cause of their death, but definitely give rise to suspicions.

Reply to  Duane
August 29, 2023 8:08 am

You mean that old interested party ‘nothing to see here, move along’ attitude – increasing marine life deaths around off shore wind farm activity, globally, is no coincidence, surely you see that?

Reply to  Duane
August 29, 2023 10:21 am

Pure Nonsense.

July 18, 2016, 2:25 PM PDT NBC news

Environmental groups are praising a federal appeals court decision that called for tighter restrictions on the U.S. Navy’s use of sonar that harms whales and other marine life.
A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled unanimously late Friday that federal rules “did not give adequate protection to the world’s oceans.”

“The Navy got a virtual blank check to operate in more than 70 percent of the world’s oceans, as if devoid of marine life,” said Michael Jasny of the Natural Resources Defense Council, one of the groups that sued to block the current sonar rules.

Reply to  Duane
August 29, 2023 11:43 am

Deliberate mis-information: average boats don’t use high-power, deafening level sonar – strickly mapping vessel as Big Wind uses to plan for turbine installation.

Tombstone Gabby
Reply to  Duane
August 29, 2023 6:51 pm

When a survey vessel turns loose 600 cubic inches of 4,500 psi air from a pair of ‘air guns’ in less than a millisecond, the underwater effect is about the same as 30 pounds of dynamite.

Ever gone fishing with dynamite?

(Don’t ask, I’m not sure what the statute of limitations is on the subject.)

Reply to  Tombstone Gabby
August 30, 2023 2:09 pm

4500psi? I think not

No wind farm survey ever uses airguns that size

Tombstone Gabby
Reply to  tom_o
August 30, 2023 4:03 pm

G’Day Tom

No wind farm survey ever uses airguns that size”.

About the cubic inch size of guns being used in current inshore surveying, I have no idea. But it does take a good solid short duration ‘thump’ to get good reflections.

I put in six years with United Geophysical in the 1960’s, seismic oil exploration. Six months of that was on the United Geo 1 as an observer, working in the Java sea.

Yup, that was 4,500psi air. The on deck compressors ran 24/7. A storage bank of overgrown storage bottles – oxygen/acetylene style, manifolded. Yes, we were after reflections from structure up to 10,000 below the sea-bed.

For ‘wind farm’ footings they probably don’t really need more than a 2,000 foot penetration, just enough to see if there are any shallow faults or other potential problems. The higher the pressure and the faster it’s released, the sharper the reflections.

August 29, 2023 12:45 am

The Conversation has a weirdly different take…

“”Wind turbines can breathe new life into our warming seas””

Reply to  strativarius
August 30, 2023 1:11 pm

The Sun warms the oceans, not the air. The air is cooler than the oceans and a cool thing can’t warm an already warm thing.

August 29, 2023 3:31 am

Democrats appear much more successful in using the court system than are Republicans. Democrats speak with one voice on policy except for Manchin. Republicans cannot agree on the time of day.

Reply to  ferdberple
August 29, 2023 2:35 pm

My opinion is the permanent political class along with our Democrat and Republican uniparty representatives are very successful in using the cogs of government to feather their own nest while implementing the directives of the technocrats to subjugate the citizenry. It’s all newspeak, whales dying by boiling oceans, people dying from not getting vaxed, every day is opposite day.

August 29, 2023 3:49 am

And don’t forget it was the oil industry that saved the whales.

August 29, 2023 4:01 am

This is not being ignored, it is being done on purpose. Biden Admin is blaming commercial and recreational fishing for killing whales THEY are killing with this windmill bullshit.

August 29, 2023 4:18 am

Not this doofus again!

He bullshits readers with tales of “surprisingly loud” sonar emisions from research vessels. Those vessels are restricted on how intense the beams are, and when they can be used, with government scientists – not the wind turbine developer’s scientists – agreeing that not a single whale death would ever occur under this program.

Whale and dolphin deaths go up and down a LOT, from year to year, having exactly zilch, nada, nothing, zero to do with any imagined threat from sonar, but due to other causes, primarily disease, or collisions with vessels of all kinds.

Reply to  Duane
August 29, 2023 8:11 am

Do you have empirical evidence of that Duane, or are you simply engrained with un-investigative bias, like the MSM journos?

Reply to  Duane
August 29, 2023 11:51 am

There you go lying again – not research vessels, by Big Wind commercial vessels mapping the sea floor for the installation of foundations for wind turbines.

And wait for it: research will probably come about showing that the low frequency sound eminating from operating wind turbines will adversely affect whales and other sealife, just as reported by people living near onshore turbines.

Why pollute nature with power plants, when they should be built close to the people that need them, like the way thermal and nuclear power plants can.

August 29, 2023 7:30 am

The green blob accept marine / aerial wildlife deaths as acceptable collateral damage, akin to a sacrifice to their new climate religion

Reply to  Energywise
August 29, 2023 11:54 am

What’s a few hundred dead large animals and thousands/millions of dead critters if it means we can save all of Gaia from the guaranteed climate doom that 3-5°C extra spread out over a century will surely do. Must be true, omniscient climate computer programs say so.

August 29, 2023 7:45 am

Stuff those genocidal krill butchers. Just don’t mess with our sea views-
South Australian government opposes proposed offshore wind farm zone (

Tom Halla
August 29, 2023 8:22 am

Wind mills are already killing birds and bats, with very little protest from the Green Blob, so what are a few whales?
If marine invertebrates were moving out of the area of a nuclear power plant’s cooling system, it would be labeled a catastrophe.

August 29, 2023 3:09 pm

I’d love to be able to blame the whale deaths on wind farm site characterization surveys. However, we use the exact same geophysical methods for offshore oil & gas site characterization in the Gulf of Mexico as are used for wind turbine site characterization… And there has never been a documented incident of a whale or other marine mammal being directly killed, or even harmed, by marine airguns.

When we shoot seismic surveys for oil & gas exploration, we use even more powerful marine airguns. The entire Gulf of Mexico, from Texas to Florida and from Louisiana to the Yucatan Peninsula is covered with 2d and 3d seismic surveys, shot from the 1960’s to the present day… And there isn’t a single documented case of cetaceans being directly harmed by these surveys. If marine airguns killed whales, there wouldn’t be any left in the Gulf of Mexico.

Have they been bothered by them? Almost certainly in the past. However, since the 1990’s we have had to take extensive precautions to not even bother them.

The operation of these wind turbine monstrosities will do far more harm to cetaceans (and the pocketbooks of East Coast utility customers) than marine geophysical surveys have ever done.

Reply to  David Middleton
August 30, 2023 2:30 pm

David Middleton – glad I didn’t have to repeat all that!

Mister Shellenburger + chums at present seem short on research + data and high (intoxicated even) by emotion and saviour complex stuff.

I thought better of Shellengurger who markets himself as a pragmatist driven by independently verifiable info.

The surveyors mapping the seabed and substrata operate within the environmental rules with usually a lookout scanning the sea for signs of cetaceans – a whale / dolphin / porpoise sighting generally stops works until the animal is clearly out of the area.

There is also Passive Acoustic Monitoring which picks up vocalisations from the creatures (when they actually make them). Records are kept of both the visual observations and the PAM – I’m a bit surprised that the activists have it seems not referenced this considerable resource.

If Shellenberger’s pals have got the evidence – what’s the problem with sharing it? – is it that it’s incredibly sparse and the conclusions are amazingly far-fetched?

I volunteer some professional expertise in this area of marine acoustics

Reply to  tom_o
August 31, 2023 3:38 am

It’s very easy and very tempting to blame marine airguns and active sonar sources for all sorts of things. There are quite a few “documentaries” (like Blackfish) on the subject. These are well-meaning, but scientifically flawed efforts. I think very highly of Michael Shellenberger… His heart is in the right place and there are a multitude of reasons to oppose offshore wind turbines (my next post, scheduled for 0600 PDT); however the site characterization survey methods aren’t a valid reason.

August 29, 2023 7:40 pm

“The increase in whale, dolphin, and other cetacean deaths off the East Coast of the United States since 2016 is not due to the construction of large industrial wind turbines, U.S. government officials say. Their scientists have done the research, they say, to prove that whatever is killing the whales is completely unrelated to the wind industry.”

Has said research been independently analyzed or is this another incident of secret science because releasing the data would be a danger to “our” democracy?

Reply to  AndyHce
August 29, 2023 7:54 pm

Yes… In the Gulf of Mexico… Where exactly the same geophysical site characterization methods have been used for 40+ years with no attributable whale deaths.

At this stage, very few wind farms are under construction. Most of the current activities consist of geophysical site characterization surveys, no different than we have been doing in the Gulf of Mexico for decades.

August 29, 2023 9:27 pm

Easy peasy! They just shut down whenever they detect whale sounds approaching-
‘World-leading’: Technology designed to prevent birds from colliding with wind turbines (
You just have to put your dooming thinking caps on.

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