👐 "Hands Across the Beaches" event is this Saturday

🌊 Residents are invited to take part on any NJ beach

👐 The idea is to show solidarity by those who oppose wind turbine installation

Residents across New Jersey plan to gather on Saturday to protest the installation of wind turbines on the east coast.

What is the event?

The event, “Hands Across the Beaches” is scheduled for July 15 at many New Jersey beaches, as well as some in New York, Delaware, and Maryland, as a massive show of solidarity by those who oppose the turbines and who protest the planned destruction of Jersey beaches that they claim will happen due to the offshore wind farms.

All who attend will be linking hands to form a human chain along the water’s edge starting at 10:30 a.m. and linking up at 11 a.m.

Hands Across the Beaches (Facebook)
Hands Across the Beaches (Facebook)

Who is the 'whale warrior'?

Event coordinator Kathleen Harper, who also refers to herself as a “whale warrior” said she became concerned about the whales when news of them dying and washing ashore along the New Jersey and New York coastlines began in December.

Harper grew up in Cape May County and spent many summers on the 34th Street beach in Ocean City. Now, she lives in Dennis Township and the beaches and marine environment remain a top concern for her.

MORE: Science experts reject claim that NJ offshore wind work is killing whales

“When I first started hearing about whales, I was concerned. Then I started researching and going to events and found out how devastating the wind turbines are going to be to the ocean. This is going to devastate the whales, the dolphins, our horseshoe crabs, all the sea life. It’s going to damage mussels, scallops, and clams from the mud blooms that the windmills make,” Harper said.

She also said the wind turbines may destroy the fishing industry at the Jersey Shore. This hit home for Harper because Cape May, her hometown, is a big fishing community.

“I’ve grown up with people who fish our oceans.  I know all the way up and down the East Coast this is like a $400 billion business. It feeds our country and we want to destroy our food source? It really upsets me,” she said.

MORE: NOAA says NJ wind farm may 'adversely affect,' not kill whales

The third reason why Harper got involved and started “Hands Across the Beaches” was because she found out a substation may be installed in Ocean City. High-tension cables may be run under the ground in an area near her mother’s house and she doesn’t want that.

Gov. Murphy (AP/Matt Rourke). Offshore wind turbines (AP/Michael Dwyer, File) (Townsquare Media illustration)
Gov. Murphy (AP/Matt Rourke). Offshore wind turbines (AP/Michael Dwyer, File) (Townsquare Media illustration)

What will happen at the event?

Harper hopes people will go to the ocean's edge, and face the beach crowd so their backs are to the ocean to show they're protecting the ocean. People should either hold hands or stand close together. Preferably, people should wear T-shirts indicating they are against the wind turbines, or carry signs, flags and banners.

The hope is that people will stand at the ocean's edge for about 15 minutes. Then, hopefully, they will mingle on the beach, get others involved and talk to them about the wind turbines, raising interest. It's all about spreading the word, she said.

"I've told people to get beach balls and write messages on them like "Save the Whales," or put the name of their organization on them. We can have beach balls going up and down the beach. We can turn this into a party and make it a great thing," Harper said.

Then, after the event, Defend Brigantine Beach will be hosting a fundraiser at the VFW Post 6964, 121 31st Street South in Brigantine, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. A $25 donation at the door will go toward immediate action to stop the ocean wind farm projects off the coast, such as a legal defense fund, public outreach, and awareness campaigns.

What other groups are involved?

There are many folks on Facebook and other social media platforms who are putting plans together for this event at various beaches.

One is a political group called Protect Our Coast NJ. This is a group of residents, homeowners, business owners, fishermen, and visitors of the state’s coastal communities. The group has one goal: to stop the wind turbines off the Jersey shoreline and prevent the industrialization of the oceans.

Other political groups involved in "Hands Across the Beaches" include Save the East Coast and Save LBI.

Photo by Timothy Brindley
Photo by Timothy Brindley

Recently, a number of activist groups have spoken out against offshore wind development projects. They claim the work and turbines would destroy marine habitats, compress the seafloor, and severely damage marine communities.

There have been a number of whale and dolphin deaths along the Jersey coast and in New York since December.

MORE: Whale deaths: We asked offshore wind firms to explain their work

One of the “Hands Across the Beaches” events will be held at Barnegat Light on Long Beach Island’s 30th Street beach.

“Our community will be one of the hardest hit by the wind farms because we are home to Barnegat Lighthouse, a big attraction in the state. It is visited and photographed by millions of tourists every year in all seasons,” said Jean Sault Birdsall, a concerned resided and Barnegat Light event organizer.

Dennis Malloy photo
Dennis Malloy photo

Barnegat Bay is also home to “Old Barney,” the Barnegat Lighthouse which is one of the most popular tourist spots in New Jersey.

She also said Barnegat Bay is famous for its fleet of red vessel scallopers who fish the ocean off the shores and ship scallops all over the U.S. Other fish that is caught is brought fresh to the docks and sold to local eateries and fish markets on and off LBI.

The Orsted Environmental Impact Study predicts that the Jersey Shore will lose 15% of its tourism due to wind turbine development.

Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill giving a tax break to the Danish offshore wind developer for the first of two energy projects it plans to place in the waters off the Jersey Shore.

“Orsted’s own projection is that 85 percent of tourists would return to the county’s beaches after the turbines are raised, but that 15 percent loss would set Cape May back six years beyond what it had gained prior to COVID with a loss of $1.11 billion,” said Diane Wieland, the county’s tourism director.

A dead whale washed up on an Atlantic City beach 1/7/23. (Atlantic City)
A dead whale washed up on an Atlantic City beach 1/7/23. (Atlantic City)

Other participating NJ beaches include:

🌊 Asbury Park north of Convention Hall
🌊 Ocean City, at 14th St Beach
🌊 Atlantic City by Bally's Casino
🌊 Long Beach Island at Beach 1 S. Long Beach Blvd and Washington
🌊 Long Beach Island at 42nd Street, Brand Beach
🌊 Long Beach Island at 24th Street, Ship Bottom
🌊 Wildwood Crest at Cresse Ave
🌊 North Wildwood at 12th Ave
🌊 Seaside Heights
🌊 Stone Harbor at 96h Street.
🌊 Brant Beach
🌊 Surf City
🌊 Brigantine
🌊 Cape May
🌊 Manasquan
🌊 Barnegat Light

Hands Across the Beaches, Barnegat
Hands Across the Beaches, Barnegat

Beaches in other states participating:

🌊 Ocean City, Maryland at 13th Street and the Boardwalk (in front of the Safari Motel)
🌊 Lido Beach and Long Beach at Lincoln Boulevard, New York
🌊 Fenwick Island, and Bethany Beach, Delaware.

"We can win this battle. We just need our voices out there," Harper said.

Report a correction 👈 | 👉 Contact our newsroom

Most popular grocery stores in America

The most popular grocery stores in America, from corporate chains to family-owned enterprises. Stacker ranked them using consumer ratings sourced from YouGov polls.

More From New Jersey 101.5 FM