Bob Schoelkopf of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine says he's been contacted by the board of directors of the Tau Epsilon Phi fraternity after the frat's Greek letters were found emblazoned with spray paint last week on the carcass of a dead Minke whale that washed up under Central Pier in Atlantic City,
"They're very sympathetic and very apologetic. They couldn't believe any of their members would even go to that point to do that and they were going to make every effort possible to find out who did it and cooperate with the federal government," Schoelkopf said.
Investigators from NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, have been investigating the tagging of the 21-foot, 2-ton whale and say they are making progress identifying the group responsible for the graffiti.
A few beach goers gave their opinions to Action News.
"They're evil, they are no good. It's sad, even if the animal is dead. Come on," Lydia Torraca of Deltona, Florida said.
"I get upset. It's nature's life that's in the ocean. We've got to treat it with respect just like we treat each other with respect," Jason Tyle of Malta, New York said.
"It proves they have no respect for nature, for another life that was taken. I think they should be punished," Linda Pontz of Lebanon, Pa. said.
The whale and a dead dolphin found several blocks away the same day were buried 8 feet deep in the sand in front of a strip of boardwalk stores. At least one of the shop owners is not happy about that.
"Buried it, right there on the other side of the dunes and all of our kids go on the beach there. When little clams wash up in the summertime it stinks horribly, so imagine what is that whale going to smell like?" Mary Mitchell said.
That fraternity's headquarters is in Voorhees and it has three active local chapters at the University of Pennsylvania, Rutgers University in Camden, and Rowan University.
A spokesman for the fraternity released the following statement last Friday:
On May 1, 2014, the letters of Tau Epsilon Phi (??F)appear to have been used in a reprehensible act in which a deceased whale was vandalized in Atlantic City, New Jersey. While we don't know if any of our members were involved, we have been in contact with the authorities and have offered our assistance in their investigations. This act is in direct contradiction with our mission statement and our teachings of friendship, chivalry and service, and we wholeheartedly condemn it.