Whales And Convictions: Concerns

Credit: Andre Estevez/Pexels

Increasing the presence of menhaden in New York waters leads to a rise in whale populations, but it also results in an elevated risk of ship collisions. Additionally, the Manhattan district attorney dismisses numerous past convictions.

Increased death toll

In 2023, there has been a concerning increase in whale deaths along the East Coast of the United States, with a total of 23 reported so far from Maine to Florida. This number is four more than the total deaths in 2022. Of these, twelve whales were found dead in the waters off New York and New Jersey, twice the number compared to the previous year. The most recent deaths occurred separately, with one whale being buried on Long Island and another towed to the Gateway National Recreation Area in Sandy Hook, New Jersey. A Facebook post by NOAA Fisheries New England-Mid-Atlantic indicated that both whales exhibited bruises and other injuries, suggesting “suspected blunt force trauma” as the cause.

So, what happened?

According to Paul Sieswerda, the executive director of Gotham Whale, it is likely that the recent whale deaths were caused by ship collisions, although the exact details of how and where the collisions occurred remain unknown. Research conducted by scientists from Stony Brook University and the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society indicates that a significant percentage (around 93%) of humpback whales struck by vessels in the New York Bight are juveniles. The busy shipping lanes around New York, combined with the increase in online shopping leading to more ships transporting goods to the ports, are believed to contribute to the higher mortality rates. The expansion of the ports in New Jersey to accommodate larger cargo ships since 2017 has further amplified the risk of collisions due to the increased size of the vessels.

More food, more trouble

While the increased presence of Atlantic menhaden in New York waters has been a positive development for marine life, it has also led to a rise in ship strikes, posing a significant threat to whales and other creatures. The ban on large nets targeting menhaden has allowed their population to grow, attracting hungry whales, dolphins, sharks, ospreys, eagles, and striped bass. However, this has also resulted in a higher risk of collisions between these marine animals and ships, as the whales interact with vessels and their larger propellers. The danger has multiplied, making the waters more hazardous for whales. The impact of being struck by a cargo ship or commercial dragger is comparable to being hit by a car, emphasizing the grave consequences of these collisions.


Today, haze and smoke from Canadian wildfires will continue to drift towards the area, with varying intensity. This is expected to result in air quality levels near or at unhealthy levels, so it is advisable to check the air quality in your neighbourhood before engaging in prolonged outdoor activities. Additionally, anticipate a possibility of showers with temperatures reaching the mid-70s during the day. The evening will be partly cloudy, with temperatures dropping to the high 50s.


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Source: NY Times


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