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Stranded Whales Were Deaf–Raising More Questions Over Wind Farms

January 20, 2020

By Paul Homewood

h/t HotScot

 

Are increasing whale beachings due to wind farms?

 

image

"It’s too big a risk to assume that these sensitive, magnificent and ancient creatures will adapt to the clumsy experiments of humankind."
As deaf whales are washed ashore in Taiwan, with hearing loss being the ‘primary reason’ for their demise, I ask the question: are stranded British whales and dolphins casualties of the offshore wind industry in this country?

Practically every day brings new reports of stranded whales and dolphins around the British coast, the numbers are on the rise and nobody seems to know why. 
Ever expanding wind farms are beginning to dominate our coastal seas.
Is there a link?
I’ve suggested in previous
articles that it might be wise, indeed essential, to halt the further proliferation of offshore wind farms until we have safely established whether or not giant fields of humming wind turbines are causing havoc to sound-sensitive marine mammals – but the industry seems to be oblivious to the signs. Something is definitely awry.

“According to research by the CSIP (Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme), whale beachings in the UK rose by 15% in the period 2011 to 2017, a total of 4,896 whales, dolphins and porpoises died. The actual number of deaths is likely to be much higher as not all carcasses are washed ashore.”


With research showing that beached whales were stranded after becoming deaf, it’s surely time to stop the madness and reassess the wind industry.
Damaged hearing – the ‘primary reason’ for the beaching of whales
In April last year, a headline in Taiwan’s
Taipei Times read "Beached whales’ hearing badly damaged". Taiwan’s Ocean Conservation Administration (OCA), discovered that scans on beached Pygmy Killer Whales showed abnormal shadows in their middle ears, concluding that it was a loss of hearing that caused them to become stranded. Indeed a beached Pilot whale that survived was placed under observation and was found to be completely deaf; according to observers the whale appeared to be "anxious and unable to swim normally." It was duly noted that "this was the primary reason for its stranding."
The definite cause of the whales’ hearing loss is not known, conservation specialists have suggested that it might have been caused by ‘some disease’.  But it has nevertheless led to renewed concerns about the widespread construction of offshore wind farms in Taiwan, and there have been
warnings that critically endangered Humpback Dolphins could be wiped out entirely by human activity, including wind farm development, off the coast of the island nation.  The Taiwan conservation organisation MFCU said in statement that "the large-scale off-shore wind power plants along the western coast may also threaten the dolphins’ survival due to low-frequency noise by wind turbines".

 

Full post here.

 

There may be other possible causes for this apparent rise in whale deafness and beachings. And it may just be an artifact of increased observations.

But I cannot help thinking if that, it was not wind turbines which were responsible, Greenpeace and the rest would have been all over this like a rash by now.

42 Comments
  1. Dave permalink
    January 20, 2020 10:55 pm

    Underwater naval operations like powerful blasts of sonar are detrimental to marine mammals. Just saying.

    • calnorth permalink
      January 22, 2020 9:13 am

      Thats true. I did some work alongside a notable ministry of ours on new torpedoes a few years back. I noted within requirements provision for controlling sonar emissions as regards sea life. I wasn’t tasked to seek compliance on that and as such I don’t know the parameters. However, it is provisioned for…to some extent.

  2. MrGrimNasty permalink
    January 20, 2020 11:04 pm

    I doubt the operational noise would deafen – stress and disorientate perhaps. But the piling noise during construction?

    e.g. See 6.4.5 in:-

    https://tethys.pnnl.gov/sites/default/files/publications/Effects_of_offshore_wind_farm_noise_on_marine-mammals_and_fish-1-.pdf

    Regardless, man has been remiss in not considering the dangers of noise pollution in the oceans – it’s at least as serious as plastic IMO.

  3. Michael Adams permalink
    January 21, 2020 2:04 am

    We might get an answer to the Why or How after this research.

    https://phys.org/news/2019-02-noisier-linked-behaviour-loss-whales.html

    Not attributing the deafness to off shore wind farms solely but they are given a billing

  4. Nancy & John Hultquist permalink
    January 21, 2020 4:03 am

    Whales but not other swimmers?
    Best to wait this one out.

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      January 21, 2020 8:47 am

      Yes it certainly effects all sea life (see my link in previous post), fish and mammal – it’s probably that a deaf seal can survive but a deaf whale loses it’s ability to maintain social contact, to navigate, and to feed (echolocation), whereas other animals like fish and seals have more reliance on sight, lateral sensory lines, and whiskers!

    • HotScot permalink
      January 21, 2020 9:14 am

      I think the point is that we just don’t know. See my link above to understand the horrific damage wind turbine low frequency can inflict on mammals. Much of it nothing to do with simply hearing.

    • Ron Arnett permalink
      January 21, 2020 12:16 pm

      Low frequency capability is especially integral to whales a species.

  5. January 21, 2020 6:44 am

    The noise from onshore wind turbines harms human beings. Wind turbines also kill birds, bats and insects and are a liability to the grid. Is their anything good coming from them (unless you are part of the ruinables industry)?

    • HotScot permalink
      January 21, 2020 9:16 am

      The RSPB can’t even make an accurate assessment of how many sea birds these things kill as the bodies either sink or get washed away.

      • January 21, 2020 10:51 am

        And on land most bird and bat kills are scavenged before they can be counted.

      • Gerry, England permalink
        January 21, 2020 1:37 pm

        And as they are all on private land where the landowner is doing nicely thank you, no access will be granted to anyone trying to prove that the gravy windmills are bad!

    • cajwbroomhill permalink
      January 21, 2020 1:34 pm

      No good at all from wind turbines, even to the (demented) Greens.

  6. Ian Wilson permalink
    January 21, 2020 7:57 am

    Early this morning Gridwatch showed wind providing 3.7% of our electricity, half that of trusty old coal, or a little over 1% of all energy, while solar of course was zero. Perhaps renewables promoters might explain where the other 98 -99% of our energy will come from during winter anticyclones.

    • SimonfromAshby permalink
      January 21, 2020 11:25 am

      On my way to work this morning I passed several wind turbines turning very slowly. Quite possibly taking power off the grid to turn the rotor to stop the turbine seizing up. The 3.7% needs to have the amount of electricity the wind turbines use to get a more accurate picture of what they are contributing.

    • cajwbroomhill permalink
      January 21, 2020 9:38 pm

      They do not wish to know the truth re their fraudulent products.
      The only way to discourage them is to abolish subsidies and constraint payments as much as possible but we have to get the politicos on our side.
      They seem mostly to be deluded by the whole raft of nonsense.

  7. Ian Cook permalink
    January 21, 2020 9:16 am

    There have to be limits. We should go back to the Stone Age to save the planet and it’s wildlife (assuming the way things are now is ‘perfect’ for the planet, which I think is another human imposition?). But, nothing matters, not some bloody dumb animals, when the march of anti-capitalism might be impeded. Two legs good.

  8. January 21, 2020 9:19 am

    wcfn, of which I’m a member, was trying for some time to find a connection between whale beachings and windfarms – see https://wcfn.org/2017/05/23/windfarms-whale-beachings/ . I don’t remember deafness being raised so that’s interesting. Two “green” film stars have recently made a film about the damage we are doing to marine life mentioning oil drilling, plastic pollution and industrial fishing – no mention of windfarms of course as they cannot be criticised https://www.itv.com/news/2020-01-15/helen-mirren-and-olivia-colman-voice-turtles-in-heartbreaking-film/

  9. January 21, 2020 10:24 am

    Reblogged this on ajmarciniak.

  10. The Man at the Back permalink
    January 21, 2020 10:44 am

    About 5 years ago an article in “Lapwings”, the magazine of the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust detailed all the Whale strandings of the previous few years. The article was accompanied by a map with each event marked on them. I remember commenting at the time that it might as well have been a map with wind-farms marked on. Shouted at of course.

    Is it progress that even the The Society for the Prevention of Birds has now cottoned on to the danger that turbines pose –

    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/01/15/wind-farms-built-tackle-climate-change-could-final-nail-coffin/

    They have also spoken of the dangers to marine mammals of the Dogger Bank array.

    Their position has been to see CO2 increase as the biggest threat (unproven at any level) while turning their back to the empirical evidence on bird loss. Of course it is hard for an environmentalist to evaluate facts in a balanced way when money is crossing their palm from those promoting renewables.

  11. Phoenix44 permalink
    January 21, 2020 10:48 am

    The increased numbers of bleaching are surely caused by increased numbers of the animals?

    If they are beaching more, i suspect it’s to do with food, and our ruinous fishing policies.

    • Chaswarnertoo permalink
      January 22, 2020 7:30 am

      Not ‘our’ policies. EUSSR policies.

  12. GeoffB permalink
    January 21, 2020 11:11 am

    I think Paul’s observation that this deaf whale problem will not make the front pages of the MSM, because it does not support the drive for carbon zero, is valid. But the report itself has as much credibility as dying polar bears, leaping walrus and bleaching coral reefs etc. Surely if the whales ears are hurting them they will just swim away from the noise. So although I am a climate change denier I do not think this report really helps.

    • cajwbroomhill permalink
      January 21, 2020 1:50 pm

      No one can or does correctly deny CC, but the role of greenhouse gases is really quite unknown though may fairly be denied as a major (>30% arbitrarily) as a major influence, I say.
      From what I’ve read, it must be less than solar, water vapour, cosmic rays and unknown unknowns exert.

  13. roger permalink
    January 21, 2020 11:24 am

    The construction and subsequent operation of the Robins Rigg array in the inner Solway coincided with the steep decline in returning seatrout and salmon to the Eden, Esk, Annan and Nith, the rivers that combined make up the Solway river, which is visible at low water as a meandering stream cutting an ever shifting path through the momentarily dried out sands that stretch for several miles, almost to the very foundations of the turbines.
    Cause for concern was also evident when first seatrout, then salmon parr and the subsequent smolt runs declined, in my opinion at the time as a result of the earlier construction of onshore turbines on the spawning and nursery headwater moorlands, previously only visited by sheep.
    So seatrout and salmon, having devised over millennia a strategy for survival by spending a few years as parr in the river and then smolting and going to sea for up to four years may be wiped out by the untrammeled greed of landowners and troughing polies building turbines that trump nature.

  14. john cooknell permalink
    January 21, 2020 11:43 am

    Building Wind Turbines in the sea is a daft idea,full stop.

    • cajwbroomhill permalink
      January 21, 2020 1:56 pm

      Bet you are right, though not daft to troughers.

  15. Otto Baak permalink
    January 21, 2020 12:09 pm

    I’ve always thought about the consequence for marine mammals/life during the 2nd WW with all the depth charges going off, the torpedo explosions, ships blowing up etc. During that period were there many whale beachings? Then what about all the atom bomb testing over the oceans – must have been pretty noisy under the water there.

  16. January 21, 2020 12:31 pm

    The problem for mammals, here in West Virginia, is the killing of bats by the wind turbines. The changes in air pressure caused by the rotating blades bursts the lungs of the little bats. We have a number of rare and threatened species here which have been devastated by the white nose fungus. However, there is nary a peep from the so-called “environmental” community over the wind turbines. The turbines also kill birds, but the bird people are strangely silent. Perhaps these folks are all deaf from the turbines because they are certainly deaf to the problems caused by them.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      January 21, 2020 1:50 pm

      And bats are slow to repopulate as they are not set up to breed fast and in large numbers as many predated species are. Kind of why they are protected.

  17. January 21, 2020 1:00 pm

    For years it was thought that high powered SONAR was the reason for whales beaching. Today we are told that whales are dying from the ingestion of plastic (this morning it was said that a postmortem on a cetacean had revealed a quantity of rope; the article was about lobster pot buoys that could be brought to the surface by being released from the pots by electric signal and otherwise not trailing tethers). Extrapolating from a single example is rife today. With the evaporation of science by the heat generated from activism conclusions are dramatic imaginings to serve whatever floats your boat. All you need is a computer and a vivid imagination.

    With governments kowtowing to portions of their electorates imagination is quickly transformed into policy and before you know it £160 m has gone up in smoke in the fantasy world of wind farms. Everywhere we look we see conglomerations of the ‘woke’ formulating policies by which we all have to live beyond the ballot box. In fact, elections are increasingly superfluous as aggregates of global misdirection seem to outweigh local government. Too many councillors, particularly in local government, are counsellors of the psychiatric sort, people who do not formulate policy or stand by their electorates but rather seek to provide balm to assuage the hurt of incomprehensible planning and centralised fiat. This is the way that national government is leanings. The rise on rise of the UN is an example of the way in which special pleading and not functionality take the lead (we never talk about the wonders of production romantically). If it were not for the Japanese there would probably be a lot more whales and the attribution by activists would not have any substance if the natural proliferation of such creatures went by unhindered.

    At the moment there seems to be a correlation between the necessity to give food away as a social intervention for the poor and the relative price of domestic power. We see people in food banks as sign of want but have no access to their homes where low energy may be as life threatening as a poor diet. The price of energy and its necessity could easily be the root cause of food banks. For every convention that is adopted from activism; for every principal that science is paid to substantiate political contrivance; for every government department that has to have grim targets for energy use, all we see is socialism and an echo of that creeds opposition to industry and production, socialism wins when not even in power.

    We say we believe in free markets and payment for effort and commitment and yet socialism is triumphant inveighing against freedoms and cementing the general rule and the wilfulness given the weight of the law, of prosecution. If energy policy is something that can be formed by other people of little provenance in other countries then we have depleted our democracy and are on the first rungs of world government. The possession of money and its derivation is becoming less and less meaningful when it is only a metaphor for ‘greed’ and the state turns into a dispenser of largess alone. If we lose the impetus that earning and personal progress entail then we are entering the winter of social structure and personal freedom.

  18. January 21, 2020 1:08 pm

    I suspect the low frequency vibrations from the turbines is transmitted into their towers and then these vibrate the water causing low frequency pressure changes around them. Perhaps these mammals are particularly sensitive to these vibrations? Such low frequency sounds can be used as weapons to disorientate the enemy as it is particuarly difficult to block them out unlike higher frequencies when ear plugs can do the job.

    Effects other than to the ears – Wikipedia
    The extra-aural (unrelated to hearing) bioeffects on various internal organs and the central nervous system included auditory shifts, vibrotactile sensitivity change, muscle contraction, cardiovascular function change, central nervous system effects, vestibular (inner ear) effects, and chest wall/lung tissue effects.

    • roger permalink
      January 21, 2020 4:47 pm

      Your suspicion sits well with mine as voiced in an earlier post where I condemn not only the water vibrations from the towers in the Solway array but also the vibrations from the land based towers through the peat hags of the adjacent moorlands.
      Added to the highly acidic waters released during construction, followed by the immediate alkaline runoff and subsequent slow leaching from the concrete plug on which the turbines sit, it is not surprising that a species noted for it’s requirement of pristine waters in which to live and breed, suddenly disappears in such numbers that government becomes involved.

  19. Derek Reynolds permalink
    January 21, 2020 4:32 pm

    I am surprised no-one has considered Electro Magnetic Frequencies from the myriad of radio masts and cell phones has not been considered. Birds and bees have advanced directional finding capabilities which are affected badly by emf, and in todays world we live in a veritable fog of the stuff. Is it any wonder that sleep is deprived, depression increased, and a general lack of well being so widespread? And with the introduction of 5G, we are about to be exposed to something 100 times greater in power.

  20. Emma Richey permalink
    January 21, 2020 6:51 pm

    I have been writing to various bodies for years about the dangers of infrasound and low frequencies and their possible affects on marine creatures, who use both these mediums to navigate and communicate. Not a single reply, nor from Greenpeace who promote themselves as saviours of our seas. If I can hear the ghastly noise from onshore turbines, along with others who have been driven from their homes, imagine what it will be like for whales who have extremely sensitive hearing. Even fishermen off the east coast of Britain whose seas are now littered with wind farms, say they can feel the low frequency vibrations through their boats. Panorama or somebody needs to do a programme on this. The Australian courts have declared LFN and infrasound from wind turbines a ‘plausible pathway to disease’. It is a disgrace that Governments are bowing to pressure to install ever more of these vile structures.

    • Tonyb permalink
      January 21, 2020 8:06 pm

      Emma

      The seas must be a very noisy place these days when you consider the increase in very large cargo ships and oil tankers, all with big engines and giant propellors which must spread considerable sound over wide areas and to considerable depth.

  21. Coeur de Lion permalink
    January 22, 2020 2:02 pm

    Talking of noise, the BBC has gone very quiet on Davos since President Trump’s definitive speech full of facts and figures, very supportively covered in today’s Times, quashing alarmist doomsters and contrasting with St Greta’s last hysterical outburst which was just plain silly.

  22. Coeur de Lion permalink
    January 22, 2020 2:02 pm

    Talking of noise, the BBC has gone very quiet on Davos since President Trump’s definitive speech full of facts and figures, very supportively covered in today’s Times, quashing alarmist doomsters and contrasting with St Greta’s last hysterical outburst which was just plain silly.

  23. cajwbroomhill permalink
    January 22, 2020 2:25 pm

    Perhaps Pres.Trump couĺd help our politicos on 1)Fracking and
    2) Dealing successfullywith the EU and 3) dispelling the AGW cr@p.
    But would our politicians understand, let alone listen and comply?

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