Researchers spot whales near California wind farm zones

December 21, 2022


Researchers have spotted whales around areas off the coasts of California and Oregon that may become offshore wind farm zones.

Last year, the federal Department of the Interior, in coordination with the Department of Defense, identified a 399-square-mile area northwest of Morro Bay as a location that will support three gigawatts of offshore wind. The federal agency also announced it was advancing wind energy projects located offshore of Humboldt County.

Then earlier this month, the federal government auctioned five offshore areas for wind development, three of which are northwest of Morro Bay and two of which are off of Humboldt County. The auction of the leases netted a combined total of $757 million.

Additionally, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is considering auctioning off a pair of leases for zones off the coast of Oregon.

The BOEM has identified the risk of whale entanglements in floating platform moorings and cabling as a concern related to the wind energy projects.

The federal government has commissioned Oregon State University researchers to examine possible impacts of offshore wind farms on marine life. The researchers are conducting a four-year study documenting sea birds, whales and dolphins around areas put up for leases for offshore wind farm development.

Participants in the study have already spotted endangered whales while out on research cruises.

“There are quite a lot of large whales out there, quite a number,” said Lisa Ballance, the director of Oregon State’s Marine Mammal Institute and the principal investigator on the project. “Humpbacks are quite abundant. Increasingly, blue whales are quite abundant. We also see a whale that is less familiar to most people called a sei whale. It looks a lot like a blue whale, not quite as big but a very large animal.”

Blue whales, sei whales and some sub-populations of humpbacks are federally-listed as endangered species. As for birds, researchers have spotted threatened marble murrelets, as well as long-distance travelers like black-footed albatrosses and Laysan albatrosses.

Researchers need to do a lot more analysis before determining whether anchoring large floating wind turbines in the proposed waters would create problems for marine life, Ballance said.

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Thank god there is something endangered out there. I was hoping they’d find a blunt nose sea horse or extra ferry shrimp but a endangered whale makes for a better tale.

All kidding aside, a wind farm will be expensive, likely funded by tax dollars and a old school trashing of the ocean. We can use less electricity until a better onshore plant can be built. Saturday, while traveling north, I saw a Tesla abandoned on 101 and the big wind generator in the backdrop near Soledad was stopped cuz no wind. I almost went back to take a photo of what’s to come.

Whales > wind farm.

Just make sure you spot them AFTER we auction the leases!

LOL I sure hope they weren’t surprised to see them there….

We have already wasted billions on a train to nowhere… this venture is even more ridiculous and expensive….

Whaaaaat? You mean plopping hundreds of big steel structures (that no doubt will transmit a steady vibration and low frequency noise into the ocean), in the path of migratory species ISN’T a good idea?

Huh. Who’da thought…

LOL steady vibration and low frequency noise into the ocean? Yeah how to tell us you know nothing about wind turbines. The whales dealt with all the oil platforms spewing toxic substances into the water for over half a century (which you probably have no problem with), so I’m sure they can navigate around these narrow wind platforms. Because, you know, the ocean has reefs and rocks and other things sticking out of it too that whales don’t just run into randomly.

So, now it’s okay to interfere with the whales in the name of “Green Energy”?

The oil platforms are constantly upgraded, while being made cleaner and more efficient. Especially in California. The pumps in the Channel, have lowered the natural seepage from 120,000+ gallons a month (pre-WWII), to just around 50,000 gallons. I suppose that’s not a good thing too?

Also, if you have ever been near one of the big turbines, there is a LOT of generated noise and vibration coming from them. The blade tip vortices are very high frequency, and the blades vibrate, on account of them not being built for aerodynamics, but for best angle of attack and, comparatively, light weight. They are not made so stiff, that the air can easily warp them, unlike an airplane propeller, which is stiffened against warping. 85% of the noise you hear from a prop airplane, are the propeller blades breaking the sound barrier constantly.

When one of those offshore turbines catch fire, or the blades break, come untethered to the ocean floor, sink or simply fall over, will there be anyone out there to monitor the 400 square mile facility, or will they only find out when alarms start to sound 20-30 miles away? How quickly will enough ships and crews get out there? Before the gear oil all leaks out? Before tons of burning oil and plastic fall into the sea? If it’s on the bottom, many hundreds of feet down, how will repairs or recovery happen before all the toxins inside, will be outside?

Save the whales?

If the whales had a say, I’m sure they’d rather put up with some poles in a small patch of ocean if it means less use of fossil fuels and reduction of the associated consequences like rise in sea temperature, habitat destruction, massive spills like deepwater horizon and exxon valdez, and yes the “improved” 50,000 gallons of leakage if anyone actually buys that. The total habit range of whales is huge, this wind farm are minuscule compared to that. I doubt they’ll even notice.

You are correct. 50,000 gallons may be a little off. Here’s the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (that stellar supporter of all things that pollute..) estimate instead:

“There’s an oil spill every day off the coast of Santa Barbara, Calif., where oil is seeping naturally from cracks in the seafloor into the ocean. Lighter than seawater, the oil floats to the surface. Some 20 to 25 tons of oil are emitted each day.”

The math says over 200,000 gallons each month, just in the Santa Barbara Channel. But, nobody notices. Right?

Whales; in the ocean!?! Mountain lions; in the mountains!? WILD STUFF! ….Certainly this has been accounted for and environmental efforts are in place . Also; whales don’t know how to go around objects? Just say you’re against the wind farm and leave the whales out of it.

Whales in the ocean? Oh wow, what a surprise. I thought our County is out to protect will life at any cost.