A humpback whale that washed up on the shore of Seaside Park’s oceanfront this week had wounds that were linked to a boat propeller strike, though more testing will determine if the prop strike was the mammal’s cause of death or occurred postmortem.
The Marine Mammal Stranding Center, based in Brigantine, said in a statement late Friday that the whale “was fairly decomposed,” but was a female that measured 30-feet in length.
“Teams were able to determine that she was a female, in good body condition, and document several internal and external injuries,” the center said in a statement. “These include bruising on the head, sections of fractured skull, and sharp force trauma consistent with propeller wounds on the right lateral side. Evidence of previous entanglement scars were also documented.”
The necropsy team obtained samples from the wound sites, as well as other parts of the whale, that will be sent out for further testing to determine if the injuries were sustained pre- or postmortem. Full results may not be available for many weeks, the center said. Following the necropsy, the whale was buried on the beach, a common practice when a marine species washes up on shore.
“We are thankful for the tireless efforts of our stranding network and local partners, and their dedication towards these animals,” the stranding center said.
The Seaside Park Police Department, Fire Department, Public Works, NJ State Park Police, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office, Seaside Heights officials, NOAA Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement and Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office Staff, NJ Department of Environmental Projection, and Monmouth County Department of Public Works were all on scene or assisting with the response.