Are There Certain Species of Marine Mammals That Are at Major Risk From the Effects of Pile Driving?

This question was supplied by the ‘Ask the Experts’ database managers.

Reviewed by: Dr. James Miller

Last Update: July 29th, 2020

The Ask the Experts database managers conducted an interview with Dr. James Miller (Department of Ocean Engineering & Graduate School of Oceanography) to summarize the findings of multiple URI studies that have set out to monitor and minimize the effects that the construction of the Block Island Wind Farm has had on marine mammals.

Miller explains that the species that everyone is worried about is North Atlantic Right Whales is one of the world’s most endangered large whale species, with only about 400 whales remaining1.

Because this species migrates along the East Coast, construction of the Block Island Wind Farm was essentially scheduled around their migratory path and season. This resulted in the construction schedule being limited to days between April 1st and October 31st. Further, construction was only permitted during the day to ensure that, if a whale did enter the surrounding area, construction could be stopped. Miller recounts an instance where that did in fact happen during construction of the BIWF.

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