LBI Fishing Report 5/15/24

The first half of May was very good to the anglers fishing Long Beach Island. Both striped bass and bluefish are on the beach, inlet and in the bay. Fluke, weakfish and black drum are also great target species. Great reports flood in daily, even today in the rain. Here’s my latest fishing report update from yesterday, Tuesday morning.

Rick, the fishing musician is having a great spring catching striped bass on almost all of his trips to the beach. He is catching on clam. Today in the rain Todd Luyber reported, “Fish the slop! They are chewing!” Bobby Capri reported, “Insane night tonight! I made it to the 40 inch club this years 41 inch striped thing this evening a 36 inch a 26 inch bass and some monster blues!” Another great bluefish report came in yesterday from Chris Moffitt, “Got the birthday blues, about 10 of them on metal.”

Carl Hartman puts in much more time fishing than most and is having a hella good spring fishing the LBI surf. Yesterday he weighed in a spring surf trifecta… striped bass, bluefish and black drum! Now’s a great to fish the surf of Long Beach Island.

Hi Flier Open Boat Stripers and Blues

We will be running Open Boat trips this Tues May 14 and Fri May 17, the only days in the forecast without rain. 6AM to 1PM. $200 person, 4 people max, all fish are shared. 

We will start out trolling plugs on the west side of the bay looking for birds or swirling fish to cast soft plastics and topwater lures. We will continue the hunt through Oyster Creek Channel looking for life and progressing east to fish the inlet. At the inlet we will use a combination of bait and lures. Bass and blues are the targeted species.

Hope to see you on board!

Dave

Dave DeGennaro

Hi Flier Sportfishing

732.330.5674 cell

hiflier.com

Fishing Barnegat Bay’s West Side Highway

Barnegat Bay, spanning 64 square miles, is a relatively shallow body of water which runs from Bay Head, behind Island Beach State Park and Long Beach Island to Little Egg Harbor. Teeming with diverse aquatic life, the bay offers anglers an array of fishing opportunities throughout the spring, summer, and fall seasons.

On the West Side of the bay anglers encounter a muddy bottom with areas of grass beds, lower salinity, low visibility and much less tide movement as opposed to areas closer to the inlet. This estuary provides a much different opportunity to fish. The West Side waters warms up quicker in the spring and they have a population of small forage. The forage attracts gamefish and the stained waters give anglers an advantage by reducing fish wariness.

Nestled within the heart of Barnegat Bay lies three daymarks delineating safe water along the Intracoastal Waterway, a vital component of the broader maritime landscape. These navigational aids serve as waypoints for mariners, guiding them through the bay’s waters.

These three wooden towers from south to north reside behind…

  • 42 – Off of Barnegat, marks the west side start of Double Creek Creek Channel
  • BI – Off of Waretown, marks the west side start of Oyster Creek Channel which is the largest and deepest channel that leads to Barnegat Inlet.
  • BB – Off of Forked River, marks the open Barnegat Bay as well as the entrance to the Forked River.

There are approximately 2 miles between each. The average depth in this 6 mile stretch is 7 to 8 feet, with deeper water at and around the BB 8-10 and a little deeper in some spots.

I rarely stray south of the 42 or north of the BB, as this is my home base. But there’s opportunities to the north and the south of here utilizing the same techniques I’m about to dive into. Depending on the time of year, I am pursuing stripers, blues, fluke, weakfish, kingfish, or blowfish somewhere in this stretch.

This is how we fish the Barnegat Bay’s “West Side Highway” aboard Hi Flier Fishing Charters.

A tactic we use for early season stripers and May/June blues is to troll 5 to 6 inch, floating, Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnows or Daiwa SP Minnows in subdued natural patterns, dark backs and white bellies. Using a pair of 10 to 12 lb spinning gear, drop them way back and put them in a set of outrodders to keep the tips low and the plugs in the water. Be sure to use a snap to connect the plug, do not tie direct or use a snap swivel, as either of these will kill the action. If your gear is light enough either of these lures will give the rod tip a slight pulse. The hardest part of trolling Barnegat Bay at any time of year, is keeping the lures clean, especially with this very long drop back. If the plug picks up the smallest piece of weed or debris, that pulse will stop and you need to crank it in, clean it up, and re-launch it. This can be exhausting at times but if there’s anything on the lure than you’re not even fishing. 3 to 3.5 knots for bass and 4 to 4.5 knots for the blues.

Somewhere around the third week in April, I start the season on the striper hunt in these backwaters. I start about a half mile south of the BB and troll right to it. If there’s no life worth doubling back on, set a course for Tices Shoal and look for birds or swirling fish. Have some spinning rods armed with soft plastics in case you get a shot at casting fish. These stripers are typically anywhere from 20 to 30 inch fish.

All of May and June you can usually troll 1 to 4 lb bluefish on this West Side Highway. If you want to have even more fun with these fish, go east of this line and the water will shallow up. Once you are in 3 to 4 feet of water, blind cast poppers or any surface lure. Crank it fast and splashy. If you get one chasing, don’t slow it down, you’re only shot is to keep it coming. If you don’t get any reactions after 5 minutes, make a move and keep hunting. More often than not, I get on these fish with no visual life, just keep hunting until you get one chasing. FYI: These might be the world’s best bluefish to eat as they are small enough where they do not have that strong bloodline throughout, the meat is very light when you fillet them. Also, they feed almost exclusively on sand shrimp at this time of year. Anything that feeds exclusively on shrimp takes on some of that sweetness. I’m not saying they are as good as fluke or weakfish, just that as far as bluefish goes, as table fare, these are the best. 

From July 1 to Sept 30, I like to anchor up with live shedder crab in hopes of weakfish and kingfish. Cut up some crab and tip an 1/8 or 1/16 oz jig. Flip it out as far as you can behind the boat and work it back with what I call a “lollygag” retrieve. After the cast, let it hit bottom, then lift the rod painfully slow. Lower the rod and only capture the slack you created from the lift. Do this all the way back to the boat. When you feel a tick or a thump, cross his eyes! I usually use the 6 lb spinning rods for this. I am partial to anchoring a little southeast of the 42 or in the deepest water halfway between the BI and BB, which you will find as 11 or 12 feet.

July, August, and September also brings peak blowfishing to this stretch. Anchor up in 6 to 8 foot of water, which will be a little east of this highway. Put a chum pot down with a frozen clam chum log. Tie on some store bought blowfish or winter flounder rigs. Cut up some squid and clams into small strips and you are good to go. Bring a lot of chum because if you don’t get any in the first 15 minutes, it’s time to move. These are a lot of fun to catch and in the end you have a Ziploc of delicious fish. I use a chunking knife to cut right behind the head, go through the meat but not through the bottom layer of skin. Peel back a little of the skin right at the cut on the top to expose some of the flesh. Jab a fork that you stole from the silverware drawer into this flesh and pull back on the semi severed head slow and steady until it peels away all the skin, and you are left with a nice chunk of white meat. Use some shears to cut away any fins. Peel away any schmutz or lining and it is ready for the fryer.

See you out there!

Captain Dave DeGennaro, Hi Flier Sportfishing

HiFlier.com – Call/Text: 732.330.5674

More About Captain Dave

After decades of targeting saltwater gamefish inshore from fluke, weakfish and striped bass to big game offshore fishing for giant tuna and sharks, Captain Dave DeGennaro is a well versed captain who does it all.

Captain Dave has a knack for finding fish season in and season out. After 40+ years on the local waters, he knows them like the back of his hand. Also his knowledge and ability to deploy both modern as well as classic even old school methods set him apart from the fleet and keep the lines tight.

He works hard to ensure his clients are safe and happy while enjoying their time on the water aboard his 25′ World Cat catamaran. It’s a wide, very stable and soft riding boat that is super sea worthy. It performs great in the ocean as well as the shallow bay. Hi Flier Sportfishing can accommodate parties up to 6 on bay trips and 4 for ocean trips.

Contact Captain Dave DeGennaro today for your next fishing charter adventure... HiFlier.com – Call/Text: 732.330.5674

Fishing Aboard The Reel Fantasea

The fish are here and the anglers aboard the Reel Fantasea are catching! We have done pretty well with striped bass on recent trips catching on a variety of artificial and live bait. Some recent catch photos are listed below. If you are looking to get out fishing, I have one spot available on an open boat trip THI SATURDAY morning 5:30-10:30am sailing out of Barnegat Light. We will be striper fishing first and then finishing up with fluke. Call to secure the spot!

~ Capt Steve Purul – Call: 6092901217 – Reel Fantasea Fishing Charters

LBI Fishing Report 5/7/24

Recent days have offered great fishing for anglers fishing the waters of Long Beach Island. Both striped bass and bluefish are biting in the surf, inlet and bay. There’s also good early season fluke fishing too. Today, Tuesday May 7th we have a small yet powerful 2-4′ easterly swell on the beaches so be prepared with a little extra lead sinkers. Get out and enjoy this awesome early May fishing today!

Striped Bass Fishing Report

Striped bass have been action in the LBI suds for a number of weeks now. We are happy to share that the LBI surf continues strong. This past weekend was great and this work week and kept on going. Most reports are focused around mid-island (North Beach to Brant Beach) but that is also the more popular and convenient area to fish so more anglers mean more reports. On recent tides CLAM has been the top producer. Bunker is catching too and it’s also getting blues… more on that in the next section.

Right now there is a full size range from unders and keeper/slots to overs and welllll overs. In recent days fish in the mid to upper 40″ range were reported. Be sure your gear is in order and be sure to test your knots when rigging up. We hear too many, “I lost a big one today.” Spit hooks are one thing but knot failure is unacceptable. If you need an hand be sure to stop in Fishermans Headquarters and we can help!

The bayside while maybe overlooked now that the surf is good has been stellar. With the warming waters the bass are fired up! Small soft plastics like 3” NLBN, 4” Ron-Z and 5” Zoom Flukes have been best for matching the smaller bait profiles. Also top water poppers and spooks are teasing bass to the surface.

Bluefish Fishing Report

The front beach of LBI, Barnegat Inlet and Barnegat Bay all have nice bluefish on the chew. They first showed about 2-3 weeks ago and have since become more abundant and more spread out. This past weekend reports were coming in from all over! Carl Hartman stopped in with three nice bluefish up to 11lbs which he caught fishing frozen bunker chunks off the mid-island surf. We also had reports Monday from the rocks. There was a good bite with some good size bluefish on SP Minnows and metals on the outgoing tide.

Hopefully this trend continues and all can experience old school bluedawg beatdowns like the good ol’ days!

Fluke Fishing Report

With the rising bay and inlet water temperatures, the local fluke fishing is off to a phenomenal start! We’ve had reports of fish up to 26” and multiple limits of fish all over 20” on both Gulp and minnows. A few quality fish we’re caught on large strip baits like Bluefish, Mackerel and Sea Robbin. Fishing a big natural or live bait for fluke weeds out most of the smaller fish and increases the likelihood of a big fluke encounter. Store Staffer Paul had a nice limit of Fluke off the rocks, all over 19” up to 21.5”. All his fish we’re caught on Z-Man StreakZ and Magictail Killshot Jigheads.

LBI Fishing Report 4/28/24

Not much change from the last report shared on 4/23/24… So I’ll start off with sharing and reiterating… “On the striped bass side of things we have both good bass fishing in the bay and surf as well as inlet. Anglers are targeting and catching on both lures and bait. Off the surf, the clam bite has been good.

The clam bite on the surf has been really good with reports flooding in every day for the better part of two weeks now. We have done our best to share these updates on on social media pages (Our Facebook Page & Our Instagram Page) so if you don’t follow us there, now’s a great time to give us a follow!

Some days have been better than others with this weekend being full of action up and down Long Beach Island. Today (Sunday) we received striped bass catch reports from Barnegat Inlet, the North end beaches all the way down to Beach Haven and Holgate. Now’s the time to get out on the surf and soak some clams!

It’s depressing to say, we are in the final days of the April spring tog season but all good things come to an end. However, NJ Summer Flounder Season kick off May 5th. Crazy it’s time!!!

Here’s a quick video report update from this afternoon…

LBI Fishing Report 4/23/24 – Bluefish Arrived!

Since the last LBI Fishing Report update, we have had some new arrivals that make for a good spread of target species right now. Yesterday a couple bluefish were weighed in that were both caught off the LBI surf. We are stoked to share there are here!

Also present in the local waters of Long Beach Island; striped bass, black drum, tautog, kingfish, weakfish, blowfish and white perch. Offshore there were a couple giant bluefin caught too! Check out the latest fishing report video update from this morning to get some info on fishing, the beach, ocean weather and little more.

Bluefish & Bass Report

We weighed in two gator bluefish yesterday. Al Parente caught a 8.25# bluefish mid-island on bunker (photo shown in the video thumbnail above). Brandy Hillegass weighed in a 11.5# gator blue which was also caught mid-island on bunker. Photo below.

On the striped bass side of things we have both good bass fishing in the bay and surf as well as inlet. Anglers are targeting and catching on both lures and bait. Off the surf, the clam bite has been good. Anglers are also catching fishing bunker, worms and sand fleas. So far this season bunker has been extremely hard for us to get as out bait guys can’t find any. This might seem like a bad thing however the way I see it, this could very well help surf anglers. When the bunker is abundant most of the time striped bass moving through the area stag up on the bunker schools and feed off of the beach. With no bunker these striped bass move into the surf zone and roam the cuts and search for a mean in the wash. This is why clam and sand fleas were two hot baits last spring and it might repeat this year.

On the surf some larger class of striped bass arrived this past week – weekend. We previously heard news from further south (South Jersey, Atlantic and Cape May County) so it’s good to see them sliding up the coast. Right now it is awesome to see the bass on the beach in all size classes from shorts, slots, overs and trophies size too. Below is two photos of Gary Grippaldi’s monster he caught a couple days ago as well as another good size striped bass. Gary reported catching a bunch of other bass over the past few days fishing the surf.

Be on the look out for some swell on the beaches midweek.

Black Drum

Black drum report are still pinging but not as crazy as it once was the past two weeks. Maybe the full moon has them shifting gears and the activity will throttle up later this week??? Most years they show up in April and stick around for most of May and sometimes most of the summer.

If you are fishing for striped bass or black drum with clam and getting nibbles it is most likely blowfish or kingfish. These two notorious nibblers are here and only becoming more abundant as summer nears. Store staffer Frankie caught this blowfish on clam as well as stripers in the surf.

Tautog Fishing

Tog fishing is great both in the boat and on land. The boat anglers are catching some classy fish on the snags with crab. Below is a big tog caught by Tony Pacitti. Now’s the time to get out there. Only a few days left in the season as it closes in one week, next Tuesday April 30, 2024.

Tog Fishing Aboard LBI Charters

Anyone looking to get out blackfishing before the end of the season? Captain Greg Carr of LBI Charters is running open boat trips this Friday, Saturday & Sunday. $150PP Text 8562640318 or visit www.LBICharters.com to reserve a spot today.

For 2024 Captain Greg is running a new sled, the Kev N Ash III… a 28′ Crowley Beal Downeast battlewagon. This bottom fishing machine comfortable accommodates up to 6 anglers and eats up the sea. There’s decent weather through the weekend so it’s a good time to jump aboard and enjoy some time on the water fishing with one of the top captains in the area.

Ashley Carr caught this tog aboard LBI Charters fishing with father Capt Greg Carr on a recent trip.

Captain Greg fished Sunday and Monday for blackfish and has had some good fishing. He reports that fishing has improved as the water cleaned up and warmed up. Earlier in the season the cold bottom temps and swell were not helping.6# and Monday 12 keepers to 8#.

LBI Fishing Report 4/16/24

The sunny warm weather is raising the local water temperatures and with it a positive progression in the spring fisheries. Since the past report update we have seen a surge of black drum to the area as well as a number of kingfish. The spring striped bass bite in the bay continues on and the tog fishing is great. The local fishing has been good and there’s no signs it is stopping. It’s only getting better! Get out fishing and enjoy!

The drum are being caught in Barnegat Bay, Manahawkin Bay and Great Bay on clam. Kingfish were caught on clam and worm in recent days. If you are getting frustrater by mysterious bait stealers, try tossing another rod out with small hooks. Anglers fishing clam, worm and lures are catching striped bass all around the local bays. The early season spots are still pumping. Thanks to warming waters, bass are also stretching out into other areas now too. Since the last report there were a handful of surf side striped bass catches. It’s not a bad bet to try however your best fishing IMO is the bayside BUT that may transition very soon. Now is also a great time to get out tog fishing and soak some crabs as the spring season is only one month long (open only for the one month of April). Reports from both the jetty and the reefs and wrecks have been great.

Here’s my last fishing report update video which is from yesterday Monday April 15, 2024.

NJ’s Offshore Wind Fiasco P3

April 11, 2024 at about 7am, I got a call from a friend, “There’s a dead whale washed up on the beach in front of my house.” I had to check it out. I took some photos and videos and stuck around for about two hours to soak in the scene. While on the beach, I saw another whale (possibly more than one) breach four times out in the distance. I pointed it out to three ladies standing near me and they managed to see one of the blows, their first ever. It was exciting for them. However these very distinct and pronounced blows sent an eerie chill down my spine. The hair on my arms stood up like a porcupine. Was that the mother?

This wasn’t my first stranding event. For me it all started on December 24, 2020 when a dead  humpback washed ashore in Barnegat Light. I made a short video to document the event, view it here. Being a saltwater angler, I frequently fish alongside whales both inshore and offshore. But this event really got me thinking, reading and researching. Since then, I went out of my way to witness first hand as many local strandings as possible. Little did I know at the time that there were a lot of events coming!

In the Northeast United States, developers have spent billions of dollars on offshore wind projects to tap into the lucrative energy markets and access state-level subsidies for carbon-free electricity. However, the Bureau Of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the National Marine Fisheries Services (NMFS once known as NOAA Fisheries) have failed to properly assess the offshore wind industry’s impacts on endangered and threatened marine wildlife as well as the fisheries in the western Atlantic. And, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) has failed to monitor and enforce. Still today, they fail to recognize the cumulative impacts which ongoing geophysical and geotechnical survey operations have on cetaceans and other marine life.

Offshore Wind & Whales

The string of marine mammal mortality events that escalated in the winter of 2022/2023 was alarming. During the early stages of these events I closely followed these events and attended local strandings; Atlantic City 12/23/22, Atlantic City 1/7/23, Brigantine 1/12/23, Manasquan 2/13/23, Seaside Park 3/2/23. I also closely followed the activities of the many survey ships in the region. I found it disturbing and strange that the many NGO (non governmental organization) pro-wind groups were NOT hot on the topic. They were strangely quiet for a long while. It took trending social media and eventually mainstream media to get them to even speak on the topic.

When Clean Ocean Action issued a press release on Jan 9th and called for an investigation, I was taken back by the many NGO’s responses which did not concur. What’s to hide? New Jersey’s Governor Phil Murphy (a big league offshore wind advocate) quickly said, “There’s no evidence at all that these are related to the offshore wind activities.” Well at that time and still today there is no evidence they were not related. Fortunately congressman Chris Smith took action and called for “an immediate, comprehensive investigation into the environmental approval process for offshore wind projects” by BOEM & NMFS. As time went on a large movement has formed demanding an investigation and a “Pause Until We Find The Cause.”

But, neither took place. And the whale death toll rose. So… Do the many whale deaths have any relationship to the large-scale offshore wind survey activity in the region?

Let me be clear. I’m not a whale expert. I'm not a scientist. I am a recreational fishing stakeholder that has dedicated far too much of my life monitoring the offshore wind developments, reading all of BOEM's offshore wind documents as well as many peer reviewed documents on the vast topics. I have attended far too many offshore wind meetings (both public and private). And I’ve read far too many news articles with regurgitated verbiage from state, fed and pro-wind NGO press releases. I wrote this, Part 3 of NJ’s Offshore Wind Fiasco - Offshore Wind & Whales, to share my deep concerns with others. I DO NOT support the industrialization of the oceans. I DO NOT support the fast tracking of offshore wind. Offshore Wind is not solving any existential threats which proponents claim. It is only creating a multitude of major problems in the marine ecosystem and these are only the early stages.

What’s going on with the whales?

In 2017, NOAA declared an active unusual mortality event for Humpback whales along the East Coast. Experts say they don’t totally know why whales are dying at higher than normal rates. Some seem scared to speak up and go against their own environmental community, most of which wholeheartedly support offshore wind.

Humpback whale strandings, Maine to Floirda 2011-2023 (‘23 through August).

Red bars show years of the declared UME.

NOAA’s Chief of Endangered Species Dr. Sean Hayes surprised many with his warning letter to BOEM that offshore wind projects posed existential threats to marine life not only during construction but throughout normal operations.  As Hayes writes in his letter: 

“risks occur at varying stages, including construction and development, and include increased noise, vessel traffic, habitat modifications, water withdrawals associated with certain sub-stations and resultant impingement/entrainment of zooplankton, changes in fishing effort and related potential increased entanglement risk, and oceanographic changes that may disrupt the distribution, abundance, and availability of typical right whale food (e.g. Dorrell et al 2022).”

“However, unlike vessel traffic and noise, which can be mitigated to some extent, oceanographic impacts from installed and operating turbines cannot be mitigated for the 30-year lifespan of the project, unless they are decommissioned.”

Dr. Sean Hayes

That is some really serious verbiage! Nonetheless, in this Jan 18, 2023 NOAA press conference on East Coast whale stranding (which I attended), Lauren Gaches (NOAA Fisheries Public Affairs Director) stated “to date, no whale mortality has been attributed to offshore wind activities.” But the entire presentation FAILED to clearly state that without a doubt offshore wind survey activities have absolutely NO direct or NO indirect association to any of the whale deaths. She basically spoonfed the national press who are not well versed on the topic and not willing to take a deep dive.

At the time Murphy, who has aggressively raised state OSW generation targets (the direct cause of the fast tracking) said, “They (NOAA) have said it’s been happening (whale stranding aka deaths) at an increased rate since 2016, and that was long before there was any offshore wind activity.” Well, that is not true. In 2015 there was construction activity at the Block Island Wind Farm. Here’s a Newport Rhode Island news article from 2017 possibly one of the earliest in the states to question the link between whale strandings and offshore wind. Here’s a document dated Aug 30, 2017 to Ocean Wind, LLC on Project Name: Denmark Oil & Natural Gas Energy (DONG energy is now Orsted), in regards to 2 geotechnical test cores at 39 separate sites in the Atlantic Ocean approximately 11 miles due east of Ocean City, NJ. And the Bay State Wind (DONG/Orsted) five year site assessment term started on June 29, 2017. To the best of my knowledge Bay State Wind did not have IHA permits and at that time there was not an IHA mandate. There’s also possible links questioned by marine environmental experts in Europe as well as an environmental blogger.

Two Unprecedented Occurrences

The waters from Cape May to Montauk have NEVER seen this many cetacean deaths (whales and dolphins) in such a condensed time frame. EVER!!! These same waters have NEVER EVER had this extent and duration of geophysical and geotechnical survey activities. EVER! There is a suspicious correlation with the surge in whale deaths with the increase in offshore wind survey activity.

Noise Pollution – Whales Are Sensitive to Sound

As I published (August 23, 2022) NJ Offshore Wind Fiasco P2, there are concerns with regards to offshore wind noise pollution. Sound is critical for marine mammals to navigate, communicate, feed, reproduce and much more. Whales are acoustically sensitive and evidence shows sound affects their behaviors. Humpback whales are disrupted by survey activity, and thus merits further attention and study, and potentially conservation action. (Cerchio Et al., 2014) But studies on large whales have not been done because few members of these species occur in the wind energy areas in European waters. (Kraus Et al., 2019)

Whales are vulnerable to harm from offshore wind energy, especially Baleen whales which use low-frequency sounds. According to San Diego State University biologist, because of their bone conduction, baleen whales (14 species including humpback, rite, fin, sei, minke) are particularly susceptible (4-10X more sensitive) to negative effects from noise pollution. The majority of local strandings have been humpbacks.

As per Sea World’s All About Baleen Whale Communication, “The repertoire of baleen whale sounds includes very low-frequency (20–200 Hz) moans, grunts, thumps and knocks; and higher-frequency (above 1000 Hz) chirps, cries, whistles, and songs. Humpback whales also produce a series of repeating units of sounds (up to 8,000 Hz) that are classified as “songs”.

Several studies on the effects of noise on marine mammals have documented a broad range of negative effects, from masking of signals and avoidance behavior, physical injury, cessation of feeding, and increased stress (Richardson et al., 1995; Hildebrand, 2005; Weilgart, 2007; Rolland et al., 2012; DeRuiter et al., 2013; Dunlop et al., 2018; Bröker, 2019). There’s possibilities of both temporary threshold shift (noise-induced hearing loss in marine mammals) and permanent hearing damage, loss of communication and navigation as well as displacement from habitats and migration routes. (National Academies, 2017). Section 1.1 gives an example of potential stressors associated with offshore wind being “animals could be displaced away from a wind installation into nearby shipping lanes”. This sheds a little light on the problem. 

A deaf whale is a dead whale!

While baleen whales do not possess the advanced echolocation abilities of toothed whales, they still use echolocation to some extent. Baleen whales emit sounds and listen for the echoes in their environment for communicating.

This study (BOEM Report No. 5586) states avoidance behavior of grey whales (a Baleen whale) began at sound exposure levels of around 110dB and levels of 180db produced nearly complete avoidance of the area. The study found whales changed course to avoid noise in their migratory path. Will other Baleen whales react in a similar way? In the case of NY Bight geotechnical and geophysical survey operations, emissions levels were/are at or in excess of 140-150dB.

In regards to the NY Bight, so far only pre-construction surveys have taken place. But if the irresponsible fast tracking of development is left unchecked, one day in the not so distant future pile driving noise could be a new major stressor for whales in the region. University of Rhode Island’s (URI) Dr. James Miller shares that construction is VERY loud, “sound is detectable 50+ miles from the site.”

This noise pollution even with sound mitigation techniques called bubble curtains can displace marine mammals 10km+ range from the construction site. The idea is for the bubbles to absorb and reflect the sound energy. But as per James Miller (bioacoustics export at URI) it only reduces the sound energy by about 10dB. Because developers know this isn’t enough and there is still a huge risk to marine life, a hydro-sound damper system was developed (shown). This is a photo I got from Vineyard Wind, but I could not find any details about them, their use or their sound reduction capabilities.

There are major concerns with regards to pile driving. And just like the survey stage, as construction sites expand and fill out the region, there is an IMMENSE CUMULATIVE IMPACT!

“It is absolutely ridiculous allowing international companies to blast our coastline, with no benefit for local communities or regard for marine life. The onus should be on the proponent to prove no harm, and the precautionary principle should be implemented until that is the case.”

Ally King, Surfrider Tasmania

This is a great quote from Surfrider Tasmania President Ally King but in this case King was talking about survey activity for oil. Surfrider whole heartily supports Offshore Wind in NJ/NY Bight with none of these “precautionary principles” of concern.

What Survey Work For Offshore Wind Was Done?

Survey work (off NY/NJ) for engineering and environmental purposes is characterizing the sea floor and the immediate sub-bottom profile. The exact work that each vessel was and is conducting and the exact equipment being used is somewhat unknown (to me, but must be documented somewhere) but this document details Geophysical & Geotechnical (G&G) Investigation Methods.

Geophysical Operations

These surveys use sensors that are mounted under and/or towed by a vessel to map the seafloor, identify physical objects and characterize bottom habitats. This equipment also collects information of soil type on and below the seafloor. Equipment used ranges from multibeam depth sounders, gradiometers (magnetic intensity measurement), side scan sonar (seafloor imaging), pinger/chirp (shallow penetration sub-bottom profiler, 0-5m below seabed), and chirps/ parametric profilers/sparkers (medium penetration sub-bottom profiler, down to 100m below seabed). “Geophysical surveys are expected to use several equipment types concurrently in order to collect multiple aspects of data along one transect.” The document goes on to spell out, the High-Resolution Geophysical “survey equipment produces sound that has the potential to result in harassment of maine mammals.” As per Table 2 (found in the document linked to above as well as included below; yellow highlight risk, orange highlights higher risk) Sparkers (0.25-5kHz) and Boomers (0.1-20kHz) operate within the frequency range which Sea World lists are within the vocalization frequency range of baleen whales.

Geotechnical Operations

These surveys collect soil samples from the seafloor and seabed to analyze and determine the composition of sediments in specific locations. This work, which is and has been active, includes seabed CPT (cone penetrometer testing) and types of drilling – boring work which requires equipment that is affixed to the seabed which captures samples.

While there was chatter on social media about seismic blasting and more extreme testing, these methods are not listed as being used. A double-plate boomer was used to survey the Virginia Wind Energy Area (Fugro, 2013) and recorded over 400ms (two-way travel time) of data which corresponds to approximately 350 meters below the seafloor. Another method, the Sparkers (Dura Spark 240 UHD Unit) puts out 200dB+ and penetrates deep (100m-1km) into the bottom.

Get Out Of Jail Free Card?

When an activity may reasonably anticipate an incidental take of marine mammals, an Incidental Harassment/Take Authorization (IHA/ ITA) under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) is applied for. And that is what the developers have done. For these ITA’s level B harassment (behavioral disturbance) is anticipated and authorized; however, no (level A harassment) injury and no mortality is permitted.

  • Incidental Take Authorization for Atlantic Shores – As per the application, “Because Atlantic Shores proposes to use survey equipment that will operate below 180 kilohertz (kHz) we are requesting an Incidental Harassment Authorization (IHA) for the taking of marine mammals by Level B acoustic harassment as defined by the MMPA”
  • Incidental Take Authorization for Ocean Wind – As per the application, “Both NOAA and BOEM have advised that the deployment of HRG survey equipment including the use of sound-producing equipment operating below 200 kHz (e.g., sub-bottom profilers) has the potential to cause acoustic harassment to marine species, in particular marine mammals.

“Installing piles using impact and vibratory pile driving and site characterization surveys may result in the incidental take, by Level A harassment and/or Level B harassment, of marine mammals. Therefore, Atlantic Shores requests authorization to incidentally take marine mammals.

In Conclusion

If you have made it this far along, it’s safe to say you are interested in the topic. I assume you too agree… We have a problem! The details are damning and offshore wind survey activity must be scrutinized and investigated.

I again commend Clean Ocean Action for standing up and raising awareness to the topic early on and staying on top of it. Too many well funded NGO’s continue to boast their blanket statement in an attempt to sweep it under the rug. They proclaim “No Link, No Evidence, No Connection” putting the blame on climate change, vessel strikes/shipping, plastics and entanglement (commercial fishing gear), all known causes of whale deaths. But they will never consider survey operations as a potential contributing factor of one or more of the events. If they aren’t a factor why request for IHA’s?

When evidence of a ship strike (blunt force trauma) is present, they want everyone to believe that is the definite sole cause of death. Failing to consider the other factors which very well may be the root cause of many mortality events is irresponsible.

The circumstantial evidence is alarming, BUT without ear bone samples/biopsies to determine auditory damage to the ears, the necropsies may never directly link. So yes the claim is true, “NOAA Fisheries has stated no whale deaths have been attributed to offshore wind activities.” But the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

What a radical environmental narrative to take over the oceans by way of offshore wind and soon… The New Blue Economy! Yes, massive scale aquaculture is in their plans and it is quickly coming down the pike. It’s not a conspiracy. It’s no longer secret and they are rewriting the laws to support the scheme.

Also coming at us point blank…

NOAA Fisheries is proposing limiting speeds for all vessels 35 feet or longer to 10kts off the Atlantic Coast from Massachusetts to Northern Florida. The speed limit would last up to seven months in some parts of the Atlantic coast and would extend up to 90 miles offshore. It’s terrible news for offshore anglers, but fortunately the American Sportfishing Association and NMMA is active on the topic. We commonly run to the canyons and fish with whales frequently. Healthy whale strikes are exceptionally rare. Also NOAA is pushing hard on a new proposal called the Hudson Canyon National Marine Sanctuary which is part of the bigger push, 30×30. An effort to conserve and possibly close 30% of America’s land and water by the year 2030. While it sounds like there are good intentions, misguided groups are calling for anglers to be denied access. To learn more here’s 10 30×30 Sportfishing Articles.

This all seems like a bad dream but it’s the new reality!

NJ's Offshore Wind Fiasco Part 1.
NJ's Offshore Wind Fiasco Part 2 which touched on the ocean, environment and more specifically the fisheries.
This was Part 3 in all about OffShore Wind & Whales.
Part 4 will outline topics concerning everyone; energy policy, economics and feasibility.