Marine animal welfare officials have said that the most recent whale to be discovered dead on a shoreline of New Jersey was reportedly struck by a ship.
On Sunday, the Marine Mammal Stranding Center mentioned that preliminary findings of a necropsy on the dead humpback whale reflect that the animal encountered blunt trauma injuries that usually arise from a ship strike.
The whale had washed up on Thursday in Brigantine’s North End Natural Area. Some injuries and haemorrhaging were observed on the thoracic and head region, along the pectoral flipper and right side, the centre mentioned in its statement.
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The findings, however, can be confirmed via laboratory analysis in the coming days. The whale was a 32-foot, 7-inch female. The centre reported that its estimated weight would be about 12 tons and was apparently in good standing, judging by the blubber thickness.
The stomach of the dead whale was filled with partially digested fish.
Findings also showed faecal matter in intestines, indicating the whale had been feeding actively before the injuries.
The centre further explained that there had been speculations regarding whether whale deaths have to do with wind energy development. Still, no whale mortality has yet been attributed to offshore wind activities.
In recent weeks, Brigantine has witnessed the death of two other whales on its beaches, among the seven deaths of whales in over a month in New York and New Jersey.
Some lawmakers have reportedly called for a temporary pause in the two states’ ocean-floor preparation activities for offshore wind assignments.
The governor of New Jersey stated that he disagreed with the idea.
Most environmental groups in New Jersey called an association between these deaths and offshore wind work premature and unfounded.
The centre said that currently, there are several large whales in the waters off New Jersey, likely appealed by small fishes they feed on that are also attracting striped bass or stripers.
Officials reportedly urged boaters to go slow (less than 10 knots) and to keep an eye out for the whales.
References: 6 ABC Action News, Dev Discourse