Beached Whale Part Of 'Unusual Mortality Event'


A 43-foot-long sei whale was discovered washed up on a New Jersey beach, the latest in what federal officials have called an "unusual mortality event."

The whale, which was originally identified as a humpback because of the state that its remains were in when it was found, was found on a beach in Toms River on April 26, WPIX reports. While it is unclear what caused the whale's death, there is speculation that it was hit by a ship.

The "deteriorated state" of the whale's body has been blamed on sharks and rough water. The Marine Mammal Standing Center reportedly spotted the whale on the night of April 25.

There have been 41 reported humpback whale deaths from Maine to North Carolina since 2016, RT reports.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Marine Fisheries have called the deaths part of an "unusual mortality event." An unusual mortality event is when a higher number of marine mammals than usual die for reasons that cannot be identified.

According to NOAA, boats should stay at least 100 feet away from humpback whales. The creatures are a protected species under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Earlier in April, a humpback whale measuring 25 feet washed ashore in the Rockaways, New York, according to witnesses. That whale was wounded and bleeding from its mouth.

The same week the sei whale was found in Toms River, the NYPD attempted to rescue a beached minke whale that had washed up at Orchard Beach in the Bronx, Gothamist reports.

The whale, which was initially thought to be a dolphin, was first spotted on April 23 around noon.

According to the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society, the minke whale was briefly freed back into the water, but it was unable to swim on its own, causing authorities to make the decision to euthanize the animal.

"Despite best efforts to get the whale to swim freely, it continued to sink and restrand," said the AMCS. "The most humane course of action was to euthanize the whale to prevent further suffering as it would not have survived in the wild."

AMCS' chief scientist said that the whale had not been in good health, and was underweight.

Witness Lucy Dalton said she admired those who tried to help the minke whale after it washed ashore.

"It was nice to see that people weren't trying to like take selfies and you know, trying to glamorize it," Dalton said. "They were trying to help, and people felt bad and they were calling 911 and anyone, the Coast Guard, you know, to try to help this poor animal."

Sources: WPIX, RT, Gothamist (2) / Photo credit: Isaac Kohane/Flickr

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