The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Office of Science recently collected baseline ecological/natural resource data for baseline studies in waters off New Jersey’s coast to determine the current distribution and usage of this area by ecological resources. The scope of work included the collection of data on the distribution, abundance and migratory patterns of avian, marine mammal, sea turtle and other species in the study area over an 24-month period. The final report was released on July 23, 2010.
Some key findings of the baseline study are:
- Bird density significantly decreases as you move further offshore.
- Of all birds visually recorded, the study observed only a small percent flying in the potential turbine rotor swept zone. Geese, herons, dabbling ducks, osprey, and common loons were the predominant species found in those zones.
- Dolphins are the most common marine mammal in the study area. The densities of other marine mammals, including whales and seals, are low throughout the study area.
- There were low sightings of sea turtles with just two species found and only during summer months.
- Mitigation procedures could be used to limit negative impacts on birds and marine mammals, including brief turbine shut downs during peak avian migration seasons and noise reduction techniques during construction to ease the strain on hearing-sensitive dolphins.