Yet another dead whale washes ashore in New Jersey, this time in Brigantine

Studies are being done to try to figure out why the whales are dying.

Trish Hartman Image
Friday, January 13, 2023
Yet another dead whale washes ashore, this time in Brigantine
For the fifth time since the summer, and the third time in less than a month, a dead whale has washed up at the Jersey shore.

BRIGANTINE, New Jersey (WPVI) -- For the fourth time since the beginning of December, a dead whale has washed up in South Jersey.

The remains of a humpback whale were found in the North Brigantine Natural Area in Brigantine, New Jersey around 5 p.m. Thursday.

According to the Marine Mammal Stranding Center, the whale was 20 to 25 feet long and doesn't appear to be fully grown.

They say plans are underway to perform a necropsy on Sunday with the help of several agencies.

The Marine Mammal Stranding Center says this is part of a years-long "unusual mortality event" declared by NOAA in 2016.

Studies are being done to try to figure out why the whales are dying.

"Hopefully we'll know if there's something going on in the ocean that we need to address now," said Sheila Dean, director of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center.

Whales were found on both Dec. 23 and Jan. 7 in Atlantic City. One was found on December 11 in Strathmere.

People came out on Friday morning to see the creature in Brigantine, concerned over this recent rash of whales washing up.

"It's all on Facebook that the local groups were posting it, so I'm just gonna do my daily walk and walk up to the north end and check it out. It's kinda crazy," said Kevin McKernam of West Chester, Pa.

"Kind of mind-boggling. I mean, it's crazy and sad. They're amazing creatures and I don't know what's going on. This is a third or fourth one so hopefully they'll figure it out," said Tom Dodson of Brigantine.

Several politicians - including Congressman Jeff Van Drew, State Sen. Vince Polistina, and Brigantine Mayor Vince Sera - have called for a suspension of offshore wind development in light of the recent whale strandings, and calling for an investigation into the effects of the pre-construction activities on marine life.

RELATED: Environmental activists demand investigation into whale deaths at the Jersey Shore

At least four humpback whales have washed ashore along the South Jersey coast since July.

The marine mammal stranding center has put out statistics showing there were six whales stranded in New Jersey in 2022 and that's about average for the past 20 years.

Still, Dean says this recent trend is worrisome.

"So many in a short period of time. It is a little bit concerning," she said.

She added there are many possible reasons for whale deaths.

"Fishing nets. The big boats, plus we're in between two major ports of entry for big ships."

This week a NOAA spokesperson said, "To date, no humpback whale mortality has been attributed to offshore wind activities."

Governor Phil Murphy said Friday he does not believe the wind farm development should be paused, but said the situation is being taken very seriously by NOAA and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

This week BOEM said the surveys being done for offshore wind have been assessed with the National Marine Fisheries, and are not likely to harm whales or other endangered species.