The seventh dead whale in a little over a month washed up on the Jersey Shore this week, sparking a debate about the impact of off-shore activities on marine life.
The 20-foot-long humpback whale was found on the beach on Thursday afternoon in Brigantine, the Marine Mammal Stranding Center (MMSC) confirmed Friday.
“Due to the incoming tide and low light last night, staff returned at daybreak this morning to take photos,” the update read.
“Plans are underway for a necropsy to be performed on the animal.”
Thursday’s discovery occurred just miles from where another dead whale was found in Atlantic City on Jan. 7, NJ Advance Media reported.
A 30-foot female humpback also washed up in the area on Dec. 23.
In addition, a 12-foot sperm whale washed up in Keansburg on Dec. 5, followed by a juvenile humpback whale in Strathmere on Dec. 10.
Further away, a humpback whale washed up in Amagansett, NY on Dec. 6, while a female sperm whale was found in Rockaway Beach, Queens on Dec. 12.
In its latest post, the MMSC said that it could take months to determine the Brigantine whale’s cause of death, and warned residents not to approach the area for safety reasons.
The disturbing spate of whale deaths along the New York-New Jersey coastline in recent weeks has sparked local concerns about the harms off-short wind development poses to marine life.
“This is bad news on top of bad news,” Cindy Zipf, the executive director of the Long Branch-based non-profit Clean Ocean Action, told NJ Advance Media of the Brigantine whale discovery.
“This is devastating and shows even more urgency to our call to action for [President] Biden and Gov. Phil Murphy to call for a stop to all activity,” she continued.
“Don’t add any more projects and get a comprehensive investigation underway with experts and full transparency with oversight.”
Zipf’s calls for an investigation were echoed by state Senator Vince Polistina, who said in a statement that “we should suspect all work related to off-shore development until we can determine the cause of death of these whales.”
Polistina’s statement was seconded by New Jersey Rep. Jeff Van Drew, NJ Advance Media said.
Although there are currently no off-shore wind turbines in New Jersey, there are several projects are underway as Gov. Murphy urges the state to reach an offshore electric wind generation goal of 11,000 megawatts of usage by 2040, the outlet reported.
During a radio appearance Wednesday, Murphy called the whale deaths “tragic” and vowed that an investigation was underway to determine the cause.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) confirmed that the agency was looking into the Brigantine incident.
The NOAA is part of an ongoing study into increased reports of humpback whale deaths along the East Coast over the last several years. Since 2016, 174 dead stranded humpbacks have been reported across 13 states. Only about 87 were necropsied, of which 40% were determined to have died due to ship strikes or being entangled, the agency said.