Humpback Whale Washes Up Dead Along South New Jersey Beach, Adding to State’s Previous Whale Stranding Cases

A humpback whale washes up dead along the southern beach of New Jersey this week, adding to the state’s previous whale stranding cases. The dead whale measuring several meters long was reported on Thursday, April 11, alarming both residents and conservationists. The latest incident fuels related whale deaths over the past decade, with local authorities and experts attributing the cause to multiple factors.

In recent years, scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have linked vessel strikes and fishing gear entanglement as some of the causes of dead whales along the coasts of New Jersey, North Carolina, and other parts of coastal Eastern US. However, animal rights and welfare activists in the past had denounced these causes, asserting that there could be other factors behind the animal deaths.

Dead Whale in New Jersey

Humpback Whale Washes Up Dead Along South New Jersey Beach, Adding to State's Previous Whale Stranding Cases
(Photo : Photo by Benjamin Elliott on Unsplash)

In a recent Instagram post, New Jersey’s Marine Mammal Stranding Center (MMSC) announced that it received a call at 6:45 a.m. (local time) on Thursday about the dead humpback whale, which measures 20 feet to 30 feet long along the shore facing 51st street in Long Beach Township, New Jersey. The MMSC adds (at the time of posting) that its staff is currently on its way and the Long Beach Township Police are on the scene.

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While there have been multiple whale strandings along the New Jersey shore in the past, the marine mammal rescue group reported that Thursday’s incident was the first such death in Jersey in 2024. No further details were announced by the local organization. Last year, New Jersey recorded 14 whale deaths, wherein such a trend confirms the continuance of the mysterious phenomenon, according to MMSC.

Also Read: Mass Whale Stranding Due to Strong Social Bond Leads To Death Of Over 50 Whales

Whales Deaths in US East Coast

Since January 2016, the country’s Department of Environmental Protection has been monitoring the whale deaths along the US Atlantic coasts, including New York, which also saw an increase in whale carcasses on its beaches. The phenomenon that started nearly a decade ago has been called by scientists as the “unusual mortality event” (UME) for humpback whales, according to a March 2023 report by Yale University.

The report states that activists are blaming seismic exploration by offshore wind companies for the humpback strandings on the shores of New York and New Jersey. Yet, scientists insist that the deaths are likely driven by increased maritime traffic and fishing gear entanglement. Regardless, authorities have not yet determined the specific cause of death for all the said large marine mammals since 2016.

Based on UME data in the region from 2016 to 2024, the elevated humpback whale fatalities have been recorded from Maine to Florida with a total of 218 deaths, according to the NOAA Fisheries. New York has the highest mortality count of 45, followed by Massachusetts with 42, and Virginia with 33 dead whales.

Related Article: Scientists Baffled at Mysterious Mass Whale Strandings in Northeast Atlantic

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